7 people you will see on World Book Day

Happy World Book Day!

If you’re a parent of primary school children then you’ll look forward to World Book Day every year with either excitement or trepidation. Well, the day has finally arrived, and you’ve stepped onto the playground with your little ones. You stop. You look around. Here’s my little tongue-in-cheek commentary on who you’ll see.*

*Disclaimer: While you may recognise yourself or others, these characters are entirely made up using stereotypes and are not individual people I know. 😉

1. Gareth

Gareth is the teacher in charge of World Book Day this year. He’s not really into dressing up and would rather maintain his professional and grown-up image. There was, however, a discussion at the last staff meeting, which focused on the importance of leading by example. There was even a vote. Gareth is therefore standing on the playground in a Gruffalo onesie today. He feels a little awkward – those turned-out toes aren’t easy to walk in – and some Year 1s are trying to pull off his tail. Gareth will have a long day today, but it’s okay because by turning up to teach looking like an idiot, he’ll be helping the children in his class to sit calmly and read a book.

2. Jenny

Jenny walks proudly onto the playground holding Matilda’s hand. Up until yesterday, Matilda was going to go as Matilda, from the Roald Dahl book – just the kind of witty thing she’d do. But yesterday, Matilda started reading Mary Poppins and kinda got hooked. Jenny got home from work at 6.30 as usual, and was greeted with the news that Matilda had changed her mind about her costume. Well, Jenny does like a challenge, and you can’t buy a challenge on Amazon Prime, so after dinner and Matilda’s bedtime, she set to work on the sewing machine. She altered an old work skirt so it would fit her daughter’s tiny frame, added a red bow to a school blouse (because everyone has a bit of spare ribbon lying around, right?), and created a large bag out of some old curtains and filled it with useful items. You get the picture. Jenny tells people what time she was up till last night and revels in the Supermum worship she receives. Jenny is knackered this morning but that doesn’t matter, because Matilda looks amazing and she has won World Book Day.

3. Harry Potter

Well, I think if you look carefully, you’ll see about 74 of them. Don’t get me wrong – Harry Potter is an excellent costume for World Book Day. J.K. Rowling’s words and characters have inspired young bookworms for over 20 years, and each year, a new generation of wizarding wannabes joins in with the cape, wand and glasses. It’s a series that will stand the test of time and is considered a modern classic. (It’s also a relatively easy costume to make or buy, so it’s a win for parents, too.)

4. Joe

Joe is wearing his Manchester United kit. He’s having a kickabout with Kamal, who is in his Spurs kit, and Toby, who is in his Juventus kit. These lads will take any opportunity to wear their footie gear, and some of their friends think it’s a copout to do this for World Book Day. But it’s not until later that they see what’s in Joe’s school bag. He’s brought in his book about the Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford. It’s the first book he’s read all by himself from cover to cover and he’s feeling really proud. He loved reading about his hero, and it’s inspired him to pick up another book about football stadiums from the local library to read next. Joe might not really fancy reading Harry Potter, but today, he feels like a top-flight reading superstar.

5. Mia

Mia pulls up outside school with a screech. She knows you’re not supposed to stop there and she’s a rule-follower usually, but needs must, and it doesn’t count when you’re going to be late for work. Daniel is really sensible about getting dropped off at the gate, anyway. Mia wonders why so many children are dressed as Harry Potter. Year 4 must be having some sort of wizard day, she decides. Hold on. Why are ALL the children dressed up? S!*t – it’s World &*?!ing Book Day! Why does the school never tell us about these things? (They did. In fact Gareth went to quite some lengths to publicise it this year.) But not even Amazon Prime can save her at this late hour. She apologies to Daniel, feeling like she always gets it wrong, despite her best efforts, and Daniel is okay with that. He goes through the gates and into school, wearing his school uniform. But before hanging up his coat and bag, he takes a detour into the school library and takes out a copy of Stories for boys who dare to be different. He’s got this covered.

6. George

George is in Reception. This is his first World Book Day at big school and he is very excited. His parents spent a lot of time thinking about what George was going to wear. They are a Reading Family, after all, and they wanted the teachers to be really impressed by the clever literary costume they’d chosen. But George is four and he wanted to go as Batman. So here he is, tearing round the playground in his cape. Not exactly literary, but it doesn’t matter. George is happy, and that means he’s going to have a really good time saving the world in the book corner this morning.

7. Ella

Ella is the one you might not notice. She’s dressed up as Greta Thunberg, but ostensibly she is just a girl in plaits taking advantage of a non-uniform day. (I know Greta writes stuff, she thinks, so I can just wear my usual top and jeans.) Ella clutches a piece of paper close to her chest so it doesn’t blow away. It’s her World Book Day token. Each year, this little piece of paper is the most precious thing she could wish for, because it means that she can buy her Very Own Book. Ella doesn’t have a bookshelf at home, and she doesn’t like to bother her parents about it because she knows they worry about money. But next to her bed, she has a small collection of the slim World Book Day stories she has spent her £1 tokens on since she started school. These stories take her less than an hour to read, but they are hers. She can touch them and smell them, and turn to them whenever she wants. She doesn’t have to return them by a due date. There are actually lots of children on the playground today like Ella, but none of them will ever really talk about it.

Happy World Book Day to you

Love it or loathe it, you can’t argue with the principles behind it. Anything that encourages a love of reading in children must be A Good Thing. According to the World Book Day website, the celebration is marked in over 100 countries across the globe, and has a huge impact on children who don’t usually have books or reading as part of their family life for whatever reason. Whether you’re a Jenny or a Gareth, a Mia or an Ella, I hope you have a great World Book Day and are able to find time to enjoy a little read this evening.

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