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World Book Day

Miranda tackles World Book Day from a mum's point of view! She asks us to consider what we really should be focussing on. 

So this year, again, I’m scratching around like Hairy Mclary on a warm day, considering what to fancy-dress my son as. It might be the Mumsnetter in me, but am I the only one whose a wee bit fed up with World Book Day?

There are so many costume-related days in school and particularly in early years, I can’t keep up with them all. My child hardly ever attends pre-school as himself. He’s always in a cape and false pec plate or a crown and cape, wizard cone hat, scar and cape (the spangly cape features in all our fancy dress). In reality, his favourite book characters are ‘Dad’ from a charity shop book about a father who gets his head stuck through some railings (his choice not mine, I hasten to add) and the ‘Baby Elephant’ who puts on Mummy’s make up in one of the Jill Murphy’s books about Elephant parents trying to clear out of the house for a night on the tiles. Now if those characters could get together and start a babysitting circle, perhaps Dad would never have to resort to putting his head through railings to  get female attention... I digress...What I'm saying is that I quickly reach my limit in the creation of human characters from pieces of curtain material. Animals are absolutely out of the question.

Now, I know it’s great that everyone gets a free book to take home of course. But, really…well, big deal.  Anyone ever heard of a library? We have at least eight books from that place each week (many the same week in week out, so we might as well own them. No one else gets to read them).

It’s not just my displeasure at being required to stay up all night sewing another costume, that’s put me off World Book Day. It’s something of the spirit of the idea that does not sit right with me. It appears to commercialise, simplify and belittle reading and literacy, turning it into a big shared silly one-off fancy dress party. Yes, I know there’s the ‘whatever gets them reading has got to be good,’ argument. But does that really have to involve the headteacher pratting about dressed as Dumbledore?

UNESCO is behind world book day but very much to the forefront are the children’s book retailers, waving their titles lists in our faces. Instead of handing out cheapo books and talking about who has the best  Pirate Pete outfit, let’s talk about the crisis of library closures in small towns.

Let’s talk about the low-income families whose children have fallen so far behind by the age of seven, that we already know they are not going to make the grade in English or Maths. Let’s mention reading around the world. The one in four children in a developing country, who can’t read a sentence, according to Unesco. The global disgrace that two thirds of illiterate adults are women and that this figure has not budged an inch in 25 years. valuing literacy, loving the books that turn us into hungry readers, understanding that reading is a lifeline for our children’s futures, is a serious business. Let’s not forget all that while we’re grumpily sewing our Gruffalos and throwing another Roald Dahl onto the pile.  

Don't forget that Protocol Education are running a competition for World Book Day. Enter by posting your photos on our Facebook page or Twitter feed. We look forward to seeing you all dressed up!

Tags: Miranda, Manchester, NQT, resources

Category: Australian Teachers

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