World Book Day seems to get bigger every year, and anything that celebrates books, and keeps them being talked about in the media agenda is definitely welcome.
The trend for schools to encourage children to dress up as favourite book characters has become a permanent fixture in the school calendar.
Dressing up is a bit of a political playground minefield, and I’m glad that Toby’s school has requested that children just come to school in casual clothes wearing a letter or a word on their clothing. Something simple that won’t spark competition or one-up-manship, or worse betray social class or education levels.
Because isn’t dressing up just a way for parents to show off a) how literary they are and b) how creative they are with a sewing machine?
A former work colleague confessed to me that his partner had taught herself how to use a sewing machine just to make costumes for school. I suggested she could pick one up from a supermarket and he responded saying that was what those from lower socioeconomic groups did.
I have to confess to cringing when Toby wanted to go as a Star Wars Clonetrooper last year. I tried to persuade him that Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon might be better, especially since that was what we were reading but he insisted pointing out that there were Star Wars books. Hmmm.
Why was I bothered? I didn’t want teachers or other parents to think that we didn’t read “proper” books.
He wasn’t the only one. A lot of kids donned superhero costumes for the day. Comics are books, right?
So that is why it’s good they’re not going along with it this year. They’re doing heaps of activities – something involving Horrid Henry which Toby seems quite excited about. Surely that’s more important than dressing up?
And if we want a reminder about how books and education have such an important symbiotic relationship, then this video that I saw being tweeted by Canongate Books is a lovely reminder. Enjoy: