So much has changed since I was a child growing up in the 1970’s. I can’t remember ever dressing up at school, may be the very occasional mufty day, but certainly nothing else. Being an avid bookworm I’m enthused by anything that promotes reading to children. But having witnessed Monkey’s feelings last week I’m not sure that we’ve got it right. Surviving World Book Day was a really big thing for Monkey last week.
I get the whole idea of promoting reading and asking children to talk about their favourite books. That is a great idea, something I’m totally behind. Get dressed up in a range of character options, and lets face it, some have a very tenuous connection to books, I’m not so sure about. Throw in a 6 year child who hates dressing up for school and the whole idea of World Book Day is lost and just becomes a day to endure.
Last year when Monkey was in Reception we were challenged to use a potato to create our book characters. Monkey chose Mr Bump, and he loved the whole experience. The kids all had a good time. This year the children were all asked to come to school dressed as their favourite character from a book, there would also be a parents parade in the afternoon.
We had a meltdown at the mere suggestion of dressing up at school. Here at home, fine, school, not such a great idea. I know Monkey isn’t alone in feeling like this. I also accept that a lot of children love the idea and will happily go to school dressed as anything from a caterpillar to a wizard. We pulled out a vast array of his picture books and tried to find a character he’d feel comfortable portraying at school. We have numerous dinosaur stories and an excellent T-Rex costume, but the practicality of going to the toilet and sitting down all day put a stop to that idea, even if he’d been persuaded to try it. Next up – pirates, Captain Beastlie is a favourite here and we have a pirates costume, but no, he wasn’t happy with that idea either. Ok, how about a wizard or witch? He loves The Worst Witch, but again, not a chance. In the end I had a brainwave, something that would involve no real dressing up, just accessorising. Monkey, how about Harry and the Dinosaurs?
Cracked it! This hoarding mother even found some Harry and the Dinosaur stickers. Monkey was happy and I was pleased that he’d be trying to join in. Of course when the reality of school hit in, that smile soon faded, he crept into class and thrust the bucket of dinosaurs into his teacher’s hand and walked off. I hadn’t mentioned the parade to him, or that I’d be there. I’m not sure I’d have got him to school if I had told him.
I sat in the hall nervously waiting for the children to appear. This was the first one I’d been to so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the children walked through two lines of parents, catwalk style along with their teachers. Everyone was very supportive and there was lots of clapping, but I felt a little sick. How on earth was Monkey going to cope with this attention. The boy who refused to join in with Sports Day last year. Surviving World Book Day could prove to be quite some ordeal for him.
It was the turn of the Year One’s and there he was, holding onto his teacher’s hand for all his life was worth, hoodie up, head down, bucket in hand. He made it through the parade, I’d seen him, he hadn’t seen me. I’m sure he was scared, but he overcame it, trusted his teacher and got through it. I was really proud of him.
But should it be a case of surviving World Book Day? Surely it should be an enjoyable event. A time for children to talk about a favourite book. I’m not sure Monkey would have talked about his favourite book to the whole class, but he might well have spoken to a smaller group. He would have enjoyed that experience a lot more, and actually learnt about other books in the process.
My heart sinks that we have this process to go through for the next 5 years. I can’t see him ever enjoying the event as things stand. A day at home dressing up as a favourite character, yes, that would go down well. So we will be looking out for more characters that essentially require no dressing up for the future. Looking for a character that fits, rather than a favourite treasured hero, not really the point of World Book Day though, is it?
But on a positive note Monkey did love the book token, which got spent at the school book fair the same day. We now have another Dinosaur fact book (you can never have too many of those) and a set of LEGO DC Super Heroes Phonics Early Readers.
Did your children cope better with World Book Day? How did your school celebrate the event?