World book day

I could not help but smile this morning as I helped a 2-foot-tall Witch clamber up the steps whilst still trying to stay mounted on her broom stick. When we finally reached the 5th and final step, she freed my hand and off she went to her destination where she was greeted by a princess, a dinosaur, and a superhero. A strange sight for many but an annual one for parents who have celebrated World Book Day for the past 10 years and this year it is a special one!

Today marks the 25th anniversary of world book day. An annual event where children across the globe burst with excitement as they scurry into the school playground to greet their peers dressed up as their Favorite story book character. In most schools, teachers and parents will spend the week celebrating books and authors, encouraging children to discover the pleasure of reading.

This wholesome occasion has brought families together since the first World Book Day took place in the UK and in 1997. As World Book Day founder, Baroness Gail Rebuck, recalls “We wanted to do something to reposition reading and our message is the same today as it was then – that reading is fun, relevant, accessible, exciting, and has the power to transform lives.”

To this day World Book Day continues to encourage young people to read for fun and explore a world full of authors, illustrators, bookshops, and libraries, bringing imaginations to life. Each year, book publishers and booksellers work with schools all over the country and donate more than 15 million £1 World Book Day book tokens to children making it a worthy cause to celebrate and get involved with.

Although it may be super exciting for the kids, we must spare a thought for the parents and care givers who have taken on the burden of stress that comes hand in hand with producing a costume suitable in the eyes of a small person, who obsesses over the most minute details and changes their mind as often as the weather.

Over the years I have been both the “perfect planner” having a costume organized 3 weeks in advance and the “leave it to the last moment”, panic rushing around the house trying to find materials in the hope that I can somehow create an ensemble that will be recognizable and fit the criteria. Many bedsheets and makeup pallets have been destroyed during those times, but the mad rush on the “morning of” has always been the same no matter how organized I convince myself I am. That’s why I wanted to do something at the school this year to mark the anniversary and make it special for everyone.

 So, I decided to take my camera along on the school run in an attempt to ease some of the pressure of capturing that obligatory “world book day 2022” photograph for the family album.

I arrived in the playground early to make sure everyone got the chance to have a photograph taken, I settled to shoot with the auto setting beforehand on my Canon R6 purely for the convenience, knowing children will not stay still for long.  It was hard not to get emotional seeing all the proud little faces of the children who genuinely believed they had transformed into their favorite story and comic book characters. I took care to ensure I addressed each child as their current alter ego to give them the full effect and keep the magic alive. There was something about having a designated photographer that seemed to do just that.

As more personalities arrived at the playground, mums, dads, and grandparents were approaching me to take a photo whilst the costumes were still intact, and the novelty was still fresh. Some of the children took it to the absolute extreme, showing of some amazing moves and poses and I was so impressed with a young spiderman who broke out into a sequence of cartwheels and handstands.

It can be quite daunting for the more introverted children, so I took my time and made it lighthearted and fun. Taking a gentler approach, we moved away from all the other children, and I am pleased to say I managed to get a big smile from each one.

Before long, the playground had descended into a mosh pit of frenzy, a chaotic scene of colors and noise, and I knew my window of opportunity was ending so I took a step back and allowed them their moment of fun before school started.

As the bell rang announcing the start of the school day, the teachers opened the doors and the chorus of excitement roared again. I was blown away by the amount of effort the teachers and their assistants had put into making this day so special for the children. This year’s theme amongst the staff was Alice’s Adventures In Wonderlandv, and without breaking character they welcomed all the children inside.

It was one of the first times in two years that things have felt “normal” since the start of the pandemic. With primary education taking one of the hardest hits of all. The children have not been able to come together and celebrate properly for such a long time now and it was nice for us parents to be a part of that again, finally.

Once the children were all safe inside, I was flooded with gratitude by the parents and was overwhelmed by the response I received. I have to say I felt very touched by this and pleased I was able to do something that marked this occasion. I think by taking photographs of all the children on this special day was a wonderful way to do this; creating keepsakes to look back on for years to come.

I am a firm believer that at a time where life seems hard and uncertain by looking through the eyes of our little ones, we can see the magic that is still left in the world. It is that magic that becomes our driving force to remain positive and be grateful for the small things, after all there is nothing more contagious than a smile; and they were in the plenty on this morning.

I’m going to spend some time now sending all the photographs that I have taken to the relevant parents and make a scrap book to look back on for my own daughter.

After school, once I have been told about all the fun that what had we will walk to our local Gulliver’s Book Shop and use our token to choose a book to take home and read together.

So, there we have it. World book day 2022. I could not let it pass without writing about it.

Apart from it being a day of costumes and fun there is some really touching significance behind it. A study from 2019 showed that one 1 in 7 pupils said that the book they “brought” with their token had been the first book they had ever owned, and the number rose to 1 in 5 amongst children receiving free school meals.

Poverty in the UK is at a staggering 18% of the population. When times are this bad feeding children will always take priority over educating them, and children are starting middle school without the ability to read at all. this is something we cannot ignore. By hosting annual events like this no child is excluded and each is present with a chance to be involved and understand the importance of reading and we should be doing our bit and give every child the best advantage of breaking the cycle for future generations.

Thank for taking the time to read.

I would like to add I that I sought parental consent before any photographs of the children were taken and have permission to share these images.

If you are wondering how you can donate to this very worthy cause, please email hi@worldbookday.com for more information. Or alternatively continue to donate books and costumes to charity shops, schools and shelters.

Did your child dress up for world book day?

What is your households favorite book?

Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading, and of course, ClickASnapping,

Sarah-Jane flutter

Amateur photographer

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