Every year I see it on Facebook. Photos of people’s kids dressed up for Book Week. Maybe they’re Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat In The Hat, or Madeline, or the Gruffalo. Great stuff. Totally adorable.
But no one I know posts photos of their kids dressed as Elsa from Frozen or Spiderman or a Pokemon or a Minecraft character. Why? Perhaps because we are deeply ashamed of ourselves and feel like failures as parents.
Book Week is when book snobbery comes into play. There are Books, with a capital B, and then there are… well, lame excuses for books. Movie tie-ins. Trash written purely to cash in on the insane popularity of a character.
As one of my friends on Facebook subtly hinted, “Book Week characters should be from BOOKS!!!! A movie is not a BOOK!!! BOOK BOOK BOOK!”
Listen: Dear parents, this is everything teachers want you to know. (Post continues after audio.)
I’ve felt guilted into dressing my kids up as characters from books before. I dressed one kid as Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz, with a blue dress, pigtails, a toy Toto and silver shoes, for added authenticity. I dressed another as Geronimo Stilton, donating my own clothes (bizarrely, I discovered I have a similar fashion sense to the mouse newspaper editor).
But this year, my son is going as Steve from Minecraft and my daughter is going as Pikachu. Yep, the Pokemon.
My kids have read loads of Books. They’ve binged on Beatrix Potter, they’ve ROFLed over Roald Dahl, they’ve practically become honorary members of the Babysitters’ Club.
Right now, they’re obsessed with Minecraft and Pokemon. And, because their screentime is limited, when I prise their fingers off the keyboard, they often go away and read Minecraft and Pokemon books.
Do you know how many Minecraft books there are? Currently, my son has 11 Minecraft books on loan from the local library, both fiction and non-fiction. They are full of useful words like “biome” and “obsidian” and “glistering” and “zombie pigmen”.
Books are books. As much as we, as parents, love the classics, and thrill to the sight of our kids reading the books we read as kids, there’s other stuff out there.
Reading is good. In fact, it’s great. If there are kids who aren’t big readers but will pick up a book and plough through it because it’s about their favourite movie or favourite game, that’s fantastic. It doesn’t matter what their gateway to reading is, so long as they find that gateway.
It’s very easy to scoff at the girl (or boy) in the Elsa costume at Book Week. But maybe they have a Frozen book at home that they read over and over. Maybe it genuinely is their favourite book. Isn’t it a great thing to have a favourite book, whatever that book is?
Maybe the kid dressed as Alice has never read Alice In Wonderland, but her mum thought she’d look cute in the costume. Who knows?
Let’s just celebrate anything that makes a kid love reading.
What did you dress your child as for Book Week?