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World Book Day or World Outfit Day?

As an author of a recent children’s book series and someone who loves reading (despite being dyslexic) I love the idea of World Book Day.

However, it didn’t surprise me to read an article, that when it comes to World Book Day, parents spend more on outfits than they do on books.

There were numerous threads on social media on the subject, including from author Alom Shaha, who shared these thoughts.

“If you work in a primary school, please think about how asking children to have costumes for world book day might *not* be a good idea. There are lots of ways to celebrate the day without causing unnecessary expense and stress, especially for poor families…If you’re lucky enough to not know the shame of not being able to participate in such things, you probably think I’m being a grump. You’re wrong.” I believe that with a bit of thought we can still celebrate and acknowledge World Book Day, promote children’s literacy and a love of reading without this “unnecessary expense and stress”.

We need to have conversations about putting pressure on children and their families to conform, especially when they may have financial issues. Some parents can’t afford to feed their child adequately, much less afford an outfit for World Book Day. Equally, consider children who have anxiety and/or SEND (especially children who may be on the autistic spectrum and have sensory processing disorder), who find World Book Day too much. A few colleagues have commented that for World Book Day in their schools and Early Years settings, children came in their pyjamas, or wore a t-shirt. Even asking children to wear their own clothes can have financial implications for some families. I know this from my own work with families; some children do not have pyjamas and sleep in old clothes. At times, our actions can indirectly shame families, although it is not our intention to do so.

We can celebrate a love of books and foster a love of reading, not just on World Book Day but throughout the whole year.

Many schools and Early Years settings already do this by sharing books with children and providing a range of extension activities, provocations and invitations. Many settings already work with parents to support children’s learning and development within the home environment, through loaning books and home play bags, for example. 


We can encourage children to use libraries, which are a focal point of the community. Many libraries have a variety of activities throughout the year that promote reading and develop children’s fondness for literacy. I for one, a working-class, dyslexic, second-generation migrant, benefited hugely from my local library. My local library was my oasis.

Developing a love of books is a year-round affair, not just a one-day expense. 

Later this year, we will be celebrating My Family Week, a celebration for all the family.

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