World Book Day is coming up fast and most parents of primary aged children across the land are one of three things; blissfully ignorant for another two weeks; racking their brains for an idea, ANY idea, nope did that last year someone will comment; or smugly prepared whether it’s an elaborate costume or a protest low effort plan to show it can be done.
Because in the UK at least the big question isn’t ‘What book/s are you doing?’ it’s ‘Who are you going as?’
Adam & Charlotte Guillain are absolute stars at Picture books in this age group and coupled with illustrator Ada Grey have created a champion story that inspires and empowers about World Book Day rather than being snarky or too Instagram #goals about the whole thing.
Little Anna is so excited for World Book Day she doesn’t know WHO to dress up as, so her dad takes her to a bookshop and the kindly Bookseller helps to choose the perfect book for Anna. Inspired and with a handy daddy she is heartbroken when no one knows who she is, can someone turn the day around for Anna?
The Book has excellent messages with its enthusiastic love for books and respect for booksellers and good storytellers but it also is fantastic because it breaks a number of gender norms.
Anna doesn’t want to dress as a Princess because she is more of a sporty girl but her other favourites just don’t work – wolf, dinosaur and so forth. Whilst there are other girls dressed in pretty costumes showing it’s ok you want to, by Anna choosing something other than a princess empowers girls to think outside the supermarket princess dressing up selection- and that whilst some of her outfits are obviously bought, home-made is cool too.
This is where dad comes in- mum is working on her laptop whilst dad is the one doing the washing up, takes her to the bookshop and sews her an outfit at the eleventh hour. This normalising of the paternal figure being capable and taking on such roles is fabulous in a world where children may be used to Daddy Pig and the likes (that porcine is persona non grata in our house!!) and many dads will be chuffed to see such positive representation and those with less involved fathers can be shown that it’s not just mums who can or has to do these things.
The artwork by Ada Grey is stunning mixed media with swipes of watercolour, scratches of crayon and stripes of pencil with beautiful hints speckled throughout of beloved classic books from Anna’s red plaits (both Anne of Green Gabkes and Pippi Longstocking depending on picture) to her teacher dressed as Alice, from a hint of Kes Grey & Jim Field’s Oi Frog on her bookshelf to the magic faraway tree in the bookshop and so much more reader will delight in asking if different children are dressed as a favourite story!
In recent years there have been moans about World Book Day on both sides; some parents at expense, effort or the competitive nature of creating the ‘best’/most authentic/most popular/ extravagant dress up for one day and on the other hand those who want bookshops to succeed but are finding world book day has become a dress up day with maybe an author visit or ‘themed activities’ and less focus on reading for pleasure and discovering new books.
The Official World Book Day 2019 includes the Share a Story campaign
This book brings the joy AND meaning back to World Book Day with young Anna finding the perfect dress up character (even if no one knows it at first) balanced with excellent role modelling of using the expertise of bricks and mortar bookshops and of adults sharing the stories and books that mean something to them as children which fits with a campaign of the 2019 World Book Day #ShareaStory.
The Share a Story campaign aims for parents, guardians, grandparents and caregivers and more to spend just 10 minutes a day sharing a story with children as it is one of the most crucial indicators of later reading and attainment and it’s been shown to increase bonding and positive mental health.
Hopefully this book will inspire parents year after year to relax a little about the dressing up side of World Book Day and make an effort to tell their children the stories that inspired them when they too were young.
Check out the official World Book Day website for a range of resources, videos, prizes and more.
Also taking part in this month’s #KLTR