According to its own website World Book Day is:
“….a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading.”
As a nine-year-old my son hasn’t read many lengthy books but he is currently working his way through ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ by Derek Landy and thoroughly enjoying it. So when his school decided to mark World Book Day this week by allowing the children to come dressed as their “favourite character from a book”, he decided to go as Mr Pleasant himself.
On his return from school that day I asked him what other children had come as. His replies simply astounded me:
- Doctor Who – admittedly there are some Dr Who books but surely he is principally a television character;
- James Bond – not that the child had read any of Fleming’s great novels but he did bring the DVD of Casino Royale to support his case;
- Oscar from ‘MI High’ – for the uninitiated a BBC so-called ‘spy-fi’ adventure series created by the same company who produce Spooks;
- Dennis the Menace – that great literary character from The Beano.
This was just in his class. In another I learnt of one child who came as Elizabeth Swann (the character played by Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean). Not only is Pirates of the Caribbean not a book, I believe it was based on an amusement ride at a Disney theme park!
I know nobody expects 5-11 year-olds to come to school as the Mayor of Casterbridge (I won that book as a school prize once and used it when I couldn’t get to sleep!) or as Tess of the d’Urbervilles. However there are thousands of great children’s books for all ages with eminently suitable characters (Pippa Longstocking, Flat Stanley, Harry Potter’s numerous characters, Horrid Henry, The Wimpy Kid to name but a few).
One is entitled, in my opinion anyway, to expect parents to be a little stricter when their precious charges want to go to school dressed as a character from a film particularly if it is one they shouldn’t have watched anyway (Casino Royale and Pirates of the Caribbean are both classified as 12). Equally do they have no imagination when their child asks to be a character that is mostly or wholly television or comic based? Or is it just that our children are growing up watching television and playing computer games instead of reading?
Perhaps we should have the day renamed next year to ‘World Send Your Child to School in Fancy Dress Day’ because that’s apparently how many treated it at my son’s school.