All good mummies know that Thursday 2nd March is World Book Day, when little people everywhere celebrate the joy of reading. They observe this splendiferous day by wearing costumes that their mummies (or daddies – let’s not gender-stereotype here) have lovingly hand-crafted on their sewing machine in the attic. Or, in my case, bought from Amazon.
But the real problem is, no matter how much effort you put in, there is always some committed parent who has done better. At my children’s school last year, there was a little boy dressed as Around the World in Eighty Days. (Seriously? Are six year olds reading Jules Verne now?) His body was an enormous globe and by some feat of technical wizadry he had a tiny hot air balloon magically floating round him. What was the parent who made that thinking? Don’t these people know they’re making the rest of us look bad?
In fairness, there are also a wide range of parents who are panicked into dressing their child as any character, whether it appears in a book or not. If you see any kids turning up as characters from Star Wars, you know their mummies have just done a spot of last-minute rooting around the bottom of the dressing up box.
Before my children got wise to it, there was a happy interlude when I managed to convince one daughter to go as a witch three years in a row. It wasn’t my proudest parenting moment, but it did have a lot to recommend it as (a) she already had a perfectly good witch costume left over from Halloween and (b) there are actually a surprising number of witches in children’s literature.
But once your children are reading books without you and start choosing their own characters, that’s when the real trouble starts. Last year my youngest daughter wanted to go as the feline detective Atticus Claw. I confidently ordered a tabby cat costume and requisite bandana in plenty of time, but when nothing had arrived at 4pm the day before World Book Day, I had to accept it probably never would. I then spent two hours driving round South East London in the rush hour acquiring all the bits and bobs needed to fashion the costume myself. It was not a happy time.
This year my youngest daughter has let mummy off the hook by choosing the main character from ‘The Girl Who saved Christmas’. It may not be very seasonal, but I am delighted on two counts: firstly because this is a very good book, and secondly because the main character wears dungarees and a t-shirt. Items my daughter already has in her wardrobe! Happy days.
My other daughter has chosen to be Storme from The Long Way Home. Not only have I never heard of it, but I’m reasonably confident it hadn’t even been written when I was a child. Worse than that though, my daughter is insisting that there is no actual description of what Storme looks like in the book. As a result of diligent questioning on my part, I have found out that Storme lives on a farm. I have therefore decided to go with an outdated stereotype and send her to school in dungarees and wellies. I’m feeling pretty confident that if my daughter is reading the book and doesn’t know what Storme looks like, no one is going to challenge her on whether what she’s wearing is right or not.
Two children demonstrating their interest in diverse books from every season, whilst happily dressed in items they already had in their wardrobe? That’s what I call #winning. So, to committed (and less committed) parents everywhere, I wish you well with your costume, may your children live long and read much!
Thanks to Barnsley Chronicle for the photo at the top.