Thursday, 15 February 2018

Let's put a stop on World Book Day becoming World "Make a Quick Buck" Day - A ReadItTorial

Oh dear. Pre-made costumes for a 'click and buy' generation. Convenient  or cash-in?
World Book Day is almost upon us - and once again on the 1st of March, book-loving kids all over the country (except, weirdly, those at C's school) will dress up as their favourite literary characters.

Or at least that's what's supposed to happen. You see World Book Day seems to have become yet another source of stress and annoyance for many parents, and just as many kids too.

Every year it feels like the pressure is on to come up with a costume that isn't just some shop-bought piece of tat (like the header image above, a merciless cash-in branded with the WBD ident and logo. I wonder how much Dave's topslice of the revenue from these is?)

Most of the stress at home comes from the element of competition schools introduce with World Book Day - and that bizarre 'middle-class-parent' struggle to come to school in a costume that looks like you've roped in a Hollywood Wardrobe Designer to design and build an eerily accurate rendition of a character cossie from a book.

Though C's school doesn't actually celebrate or support the day itself (and it seems a lot of schools do their own thing at other times of the year - just like C's school) there are still the inevitable times when we're called on to design a costume, make the durned thing (with my wife normally doing the bulk of the hard work - I just contribute the 'fancy bits' sometimes, as I can't sew to save my life) and then send C to school in something that most teachers and kids will scratch their heads at, and ask "Who are you meant to be?"

Quite often it's made worse by our school's bizarre choice of 'themes' for their own book week. Normally they seem to default to stuff like "Dress as someone from a Roald Dahl book" (easy enough, 'Girl from "The Magic Finger" it is then!) or someone from Alice in Wonderland...but...well...

You see, we're subversives - and as such we always look for the 'non mainstream' approach when it comes to Book Day / week costumes.

To date, C has gone to school dressed as the girl from "Pirate Girl" by Cornelia Funke. She's gone as Laura Ingalls Wilder from the "Little House on the Prairie" novels. She went as a huge and rather complex flower design meant to be one of the living flowers from Alice in Wonderland (because virtually ALL the other girls in her class just stuck a blue dress and Alice band on and went as Alice herself instead). All our costumes have been home made, probably taken longer than we'd liked but it felt more like we were entering into the spirit of world book day - to celebrate the joy of reading and have a bit of fun making a costume that didn't suck.

Anyway, back to that header image and the thought that World Book Day has become yet another celebratory day hijacked by mass consumerism.

If you think the Walliams costumes were bad, here's H & M's attempt to provide ready made costumes...

Crikey, talk about a lazy pass...
Obviously we do not have any problem at all with the prospect of comic characters being legit WBD characters / costumes but the above just shows what a rubbish and lazy pass big companies are capable of when they're trying to tap into the passion and imagination that *should* surround this day.

It does at least give most parents a ready made and 'easy' alternative (honestly though, can you really be as cheeky as to dress your girls up in Disney Princess costumes because "Snow White was a book once, right?").

Still our question remains though - what do you think World Book Day is about? What should it be about? Why does it often feel like books, a celebration of creativity and the essence of why we encourage our kids to read for pleasure is completely and utterly lost somehow? Admittedly this may be our own experience and ours alone. We look on in envy every WBD at some of the things that happen in other people's schools and wonder why not ours. But I'm sure we can't be the only ones thoroughly jaded with the whole thing? For book bloggers that feels a bit...strange really. We should be looking forward to it every year, not dreading it.

Sometimes it feels like WBD is now destined to become as tacky and over-commercialised as Halloween - a day that (I swear to god) would not have become the sh*t-show it has over here if it wasn't for the movie "E.T The Extra Terrestrial"?

We do at least get some cracking mini book editions going out on WBD which definitely make the day worthwhile from a reader perspective. But this biz about the costumes really can take the shine off things big time.

Let's hope this year's is a huge success but let's see less of the profiteering, more of the celebration of reading and fantastic kids books this year, eh?