World Book Day - or a huge fancy dress party?

editorial image
1
Have your say

Every day, it would appear, is now “British” or “World” or “International” Something Day.

All of them are designed to raise awareness of issues, illnesses and ideals.

Many are laudable while some, I believe, are quite frankly stupid.

But there is a worry with some that are at face value laudable.

And that worry is that they appear vulnerable to both supermarket hype and pester power.

The other week, for the 18th successive year, was World Book Day.

Supported by UNESCO and, in this country, sponsored by National Book Tokens the idea behind it is to get children reading and in this country it provides access to a free or discounted book to every child under the age of 18 thanks to the sponsors.

How could I, an avid reader from the age of about four, have any particular problem with that?

Clearly my school days were well behind me when the first World Book Day came along.

But in the last 18 years, through the columns of this newspaper, I have seen it grow into an entirely different beast to the one we first reported.

Initially schools would set aside special reading time or devote lessons to children talking about their favourite books in an attempt to encourage others to read more.

Others were lucky enough to get published authors to pop in and talk about their work and the characters in them.

Now, unfortunately, it appears to have turned into a mass fancy dress party.

Not, I am sure, helpful to families with already-stretched budgets. And not, I am sure, full of children dressed as Oliver Twist or Little Dorrit.

From memory of last year’s photographs from World Book Day events, children are more likely to turn up as cartoon characters.

And I am not sure where Dennis the Menace fits into World Book Day, unless of course, my 1968 Beano Annual actually counts as a book!