A Churlish Celebration Of World Book Day

James Proclaims (4)

Happy World Book Day everyone!

Because if you live in the UK, then today is World Book Day. If you live somewhere else then it probably isn’t. Because we ‘celebrate’ World Book Day on a different day to the rest of the world. Which means that we should call it ‘UK Book Day’. But we don’t. We call it World Book Day. Which is perfectly sensible and not in the least bit confusing.

Today is one of the most important days of the year in the quest to encourage children, the world over (although mainly, in the UK), to ditch social media, casual violence and being scornful about everything and instead pick up a good book. Because sadly it is an undisputable fact that no child anywhere in the world would choose to read for pleasure and unless we dedicate a day to letting them dress up in costumes that may or may not have anything to do with literature, then we will never get the message across to them that reading is the best.

Working in a school, I come face to face with the horrifying reality of childhood illiteracy every day. Well most days. Obviously during the pandemic I haven’t had to deal with the ignorant little blighters too much, and alas they mostly won’t be in school today, but I can assure you that whatever you may have heard about the antipathy our young people have towards books, the reality is far far worse. There have been times when I have introduced a book to a class and they have stared at me in genuine wonder, unable to identify the strange object that I have in my hands. One child even ran from the room screaming in terror.

Thankfully World Book Day allows us to communicate the value of books to children in a way that their empty little minds can understand. Which is by dressing up in an overpriced costume bought with money that would in no way be better spent on, you know, actual books.

Obviously I am being facetious. Lots of children don’t like reading, lots of children didn’t like reading when I was a child. But oddly enough quite a lot of children do like reading. World Book Day does very little to change the status quo.

It does, irritatingly enough, serve as a reminder to me that I never have time to read anymore.

Except to Little Proclaims, every night before she goes to bed. Which is possibly my favourite time of the day, both from the daddy-daughter bonding perspective and also the fact that she will soon be asleep and my home will temporarily be safe from wanton destruction.

Fortunately Little Proclaims is still too young to care about World Book Day but it is, so I’m led to believe, quite a stressful day for many parents. I’m sure, even those who are desperate to get their offspring back into schools next week are not all that sorry that this year’s ‘event’ fell on a day when schools in England still happen to be closed.

If I was to drop the churlish attitude briefly, I think, as a result of World Book Day, children are able to get a free book, which is, of course, no bad thing. And I don’t, for a second, question the good intentions behind the original concept, but, as with so many things, it does appear that the message seems to have been lost along the way.

And I will be an absolute hypocrite, (of course I will) when Little Proclaims is old enough to want to dress up. And I will let her go to school dressed as Elsa off of Frozen if that’s what she wants to do. But my endeavours to ensure she enjoys reading books will, I hope, be as a result of us continuing to enjoy our bedtime stories together for many more years to come.

  21 comments for “A Churlish Celebration Of World Book Day

  1. March 4, 2021 at 7:07 am

    Someone once said ‘with a book you’re never alone.’Of course, once you start to read your imagination tells a far more detailed story than any DVD. All you can do is hope the reading with Dad leads to reading for herself.

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 4, 2021 at 7:37 am

      She already pretends to read the books (she remembers quite a lot of the words from memory which is actually pretty impressive) so we’re on the right track

      Liked by 2 people

      • March 4, 2021 at 8:24 am

        Good, to hear, she listens and as kids/sponges do, soaks everything up. BTW My youngest ‘read’ along with me at five. I’m not saying read the pages, per se, it was more ‘per say.’. Ask her ‘what’s this word’ and she was lost. She is dyspraxic and listened like crazy.

        Liked by 2 people

      • March 4, 2021 at 8:27 am

        I’m dyspraxic. A good memory does seem to be very me of the positive side effects. I drive people crazy by never taking notes in meetings but I always remember the important bits better than the note takers.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. March 4, 2021 at 8:09 am

    Recommended Reading = The Sour Grapes of Wrath

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 4, 2021 at 8:24 am

      Sorry, I didn’t mean to wine


  3. March 4, 2021 at 8:17 am

    Only give free books to children who don’t dress up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 4, 2021 at 8:24 am

      I’m not sure that will discourage the dressing up sadly

      Liked by 1 person

  4. March 4, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Dyspraxia seems to me like one of those maze puzzles you do. Until you find the convoluted way of making the connections it is just an endless maze . Well, that’s how I ‘explain’ it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 4, 2021 at 8:51 am

      I still frequently get lost in the maze – the trick is to have a (metaphorical) sleeping bag and a steady supply of (non-metaphorical) snacks.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Scribblans
    March 4, 2021 at 9:08 am

    I seem to have missed all that dressing them up lark with mine, perhaps it’s a symptom of the ‘you can really enjoy anything you like as long as you have to buy it and someone makes a profit from selling it to you’ age. The actual reading to them and getting them involved with how ideas grew from the language was an important thing to me. With my daughter, I used to do a rhyming game and made up stories for her at bed time too. She’s at Cambridge now, so despite my efforts she has risen above it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • March 4, 2021 at 7:39 pm

      I think you can take a bit of credit for your daughter’s success. I fully intend to take credit for anything my offspring achieves. Although obviously no blame if thinking’s go awry and she ends up being a criminal. Or a Tory.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. March 4, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    You know, when you decide to say something serious, you really do a good job. I loved reading to my kids and laughing with them and even crying sometimes. I read to any of the grandkids, too, I can when the opportunity presents itself.

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 4, 2021 at 7:35 pm

      I do my best to never say anything serious but sometimes it just slips out. Reading stories to little people really is one of life’s great pleasures

      Liked by 1 person

  7. March 5, 2021 at 5:42 am

    If it weren’t for my mom reading to me as a kid, I wouldn’t love reading as much as I do today. Which reminds me, I should really go read that book I’ve been neglecting 🤔


  8. March 6, 2021 at 3:38 pm

    Reading to my son was my favourite part of “child-rearing”, although my advice to parents is avoid those long Bill Peet picture books as I just about needed therapy by the time Jeff stopped asking for “The Gnats of Knotty Pine” (I hate not being able to italicize.) Anyway, I had a deal with Jeff that whenever he finished books we had bought for him to read, we would go and get more. He is now an avid reader, and I’ll be Little Proclaims will be as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 6, 2021 at 5:15 pm

      I certainly was an avid reader until my stupid job got in the way of having time to read and my parents always read to me, so I’m quietly confident that Little Proclaims will follow suit. But I hope she has better career advice than I got.

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 7, 2021 at 12:07 am

        Not reading is an occupational hazard for sure, and a really ironic one at that. I guess it’s because so much of the job is reading in a critical way, so reading becomes somewhat fraught with a certain tension, I find.


  9. March 8, 2021 at 9:08 am

    I once got into trouble at junior school for reading a book. We didn’t have World Book Day back then… p’haps that’s where it all went wrong. Mind you, if they had, I’d have been tempted to dress up as an invisible character so that I could stay at home and read…

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 8, 2021 at 12:41 pm

      That does sound like the best plan

      Liked by 1 person

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