Today is one of the most hotly anticipated(?) days in the academic calendar, it is World Book Day. Parents love it. Parents hate it. Kids love it. Kids hate it.
Last year we were at an International School and they didn’t participate in World Book Day. I remember viewing the Facebook posts of my friends with envy, sadness and a soupçon of relief that we were not having to put together an outfit the night before. This year we have fully embraced the experience. After a brief flirtation with Willy Wonka and then Frankie from ‘Frankies Magic Football’, J settled on Augustus Gloop from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. I have spent three nights this week creating his outfit. Shortening trousers, sewing cushions and related stuffing into a jumper, borrowing braces and making a golden ticket. J has been excited, eager to provoke hilarity among his peers.
This morning, after all the effort had come to fruition, he wobbled. We walked to school and he was fine. We got to T’s boot room and, thanks to the exuberant reaction of a couple of the young ladies, which wasn’t negative but was rather that it thrust him centre stage, he wobbled. In reaction to that attention, he crumbled. I could see on his chocolate smeared face (yes, we had gone the whole hog) that he thought it was a huge mistake. My heart sank as rapidly as if I’d been told that we’d got the wrong day.
J looked AMAZING, he had approached the whole event with humour, with confidence and with the knowledge that his favourite author had furnished him with a character to revel in. A character that makes you laugh, and that repulses you in equal measure. A character from a story that is the stuff of dreams and that ignites the imagination like a rocket flash across the night sky. But. Bringing Dahl’s creation to life, by dragging Augustus into the reality of Hedgehog class was just too much for J. Augustus should have been left in the pages of our well-thumbed paperback, sadly J was not quite ready to walk in his shoes for the day.
The whole point of World Book Day is to encourage people, of all ages, but especially kids, to pick up a book and read it. Why do we need a day to do this? Do we really have to resort to bribery (all school kids get a voucher for a book) to coerce children into reading? Reading is probably the single most important skill we can ever teach our children. In my humble opinion, being able to read is more important than any other skill, bar none. Reading is the key to many wonderful adventures and emotions, the key to accessing infinite knowledge. It is so sad that we have to shoe horn our kids into a dressing up costume to start a conversation between them and their peers about books.
But then, I can count the number of times I have had a conversation with adult friends about a novel I have enjoyed, or asked what they might be reading themselves, on one hand. So, I have made a late new year resolution. I am going to talk about, ask about, books this year. I want to know what you are reading, what you have enjoyed, what you have hated, what you loved. I’d like to launch a book linky (when I’ve worked out how to do it) at the end of each month. Share your book recommendations, whether it’s a picture book you have enjoyed with your toddler or the latest John Grisham you have devoured in one sitting. I need to start practising what I preach and start talking about books and reading. I won’t even ask you to dress up to join in!