It’s that time of year again! World Book Day is almost upon us. That one day we set aside to appreciate the books we enjoy. Though frankly that should be the sort of thing we do on the other 364 days of the year too. That’s my prevailing opinion, but it certainly doesn’t mean I eschew the idea of World Book Day. Let me clarify a few thoughts.
Having one day declared a day for books does not mean that we have to ignore these wonderful little collections of words bound to paper for the rest of the year. Indeed, schools all across the world regularly look to children’s books for inspiration in their lesson and activity planning. Almost any book can act as a link across the curriculum. Reading ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle with a young class not only encourages counting but links into minibeast hunts, life cycles as well as learning about fruit. At the older end of the spectrum, I recall in-depth discussions on the subject of racism, past and present, brought on by our class reading ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’ by Mildred D. Taylor. Stories bring all sorts of subjects into the classroom and act as a catalyst for further learning whatever the time of year.
That being said, I still believe in the importance of World Book Day. Used properly it can be a vital tool for the promotion of reading for enjoyment to children. A day of fun activities where children can bring in, read and discuss their favourite book is something to build up and look forward to. It was first marked and celebrated in 1995, and even I vaguely recall the introduction of free book tokens being introduced at that time. It didn’t take long for the idea of dressing up as book characters to come around, but by the time it had caught on in Primary schools I was firmly in Secondary school. It wasn’t really until I started my training as a Primary school teacher in 2005 that I became fully aware of the excitement it generated.
The cosplayer in me fully embraces the notion of dressing up as your favourite character. However, this year it has become abundantly clear that high streets shops are offering ready made fancy dress costumes designed for World Book Day. I can’t help but feel a little uneasy at what looks very much like the commercialisation of World Book Day, but then it could be argued that that’s how the economy works. Books themselves aren’t given out for free at the shops.
I appreciate that not everyone will have the time or resources to put together a costume from scratch, but I do feel that planning a costume with your child and working on it together must be a more fulfilling experience than simply buying one. That, of course, links in to a raging debate in the cosplay community regarding whether costumes that are bought count as cosplay (it is my opinion that they certainly count). Steering back to World Book Day, what is most important is that it is fun for the children.
Whether their costume is bought or homemade, to have fun as their favourite character and to engage with books is paramount. We read as adults because we enjoy it, and the excitement of World Book Day can help to create a lasting impression in children’s minds. A single, simple truth that will set them on a path of discovery and enlightenment.
Reading is fun.
Have a fantastic World Book Day, whatever your plans are!