The World Book Day judgey-pants & a few thoughts on it all.

The World Book Day judgey-pants & a few thoughts on it all. via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Reuben dressed as a Cow boy earlier in the week… He could be Mark Twain or Woody from Toy Story, who knows?!

While we were away on our holibobs it was World Book Day, something that almost every school comes out and celebrates, usually with a “dress as your favourite literary character” gig. I was waiting for the boys to finish their little morning play in the hot tub (which they now want at home by the way, cause that’s gonna happen) and having a browse of Facebook while I supervised them. I was loving all the adorable costumes, the kids looked so sweet and to be honest it did make me a little envious that we weren’t there to dress up and have some fun.

Toby would have wanted to dress up as The Gruffalo, of that I have no doubt, or at the very least the Fox, Owl or Snake… Not the mouse, he is in far to perilous situation for my little dude. Reuben, however, would be a bit of a tricky one to dress up. His favourite characters aren’t available to buy and my creative skills are as crap as Donald Trump’s politics. So as I was browsing I came across a good ole keyboard warrior style status from a girl I was really good friends with at school. This is what it said:

“Today is World Book Day, not World Fictional Character Day. If your child does not have a favourite literary character to dress up as you may want to stop using the tv as a babysitter and sit them down with a damn book for once. Yes I am being judgmental, I don’t care.”

I genuinely wasn’t sure whether to be offended or amused. Firstly, this particular girl isn’t a parent and I genuinely believe having an opinion on parenting when you aren’t a parent is like performing brain surgery when you have never been to medical school and are blind drunk – it’s going to end in a lot of people thinking very poorly of you and being pretty annoyed at your stupidity. Secondly, as soon as the status was posted, it was apparent that she’d upset a fair portion of her friends with one friend (who was an actual real life parent, you know, with a valid opinion) telling her that she was pretty sure she should rethink her very offensive status as she wouldn’t be the only parent given to thinking she was an absolute dick. Others sent a message to say they got her point but she would one day be made to eat her words and shouldn’t post something so nasty… Her defence? She was a bibliophile and as such it upset her to see people not grasping the true meaning of the day.

Geez. Bring out the big girl pants cos someone needs to pull em up.

Couple of things, after I wrote out a few wordy replies (which I ended up not sending because, was it worth it?), really made me want to write about this. She did have a point of sorts, but worded it very badly and came across as a great big fuckwit. The truth is, children should really have a literary character that they love BUT, here’s the kicker, what defines a literary character? We’re now at a point where every big selling book becomes a movie and there are a tonne of TV programmes and movies made into books. Reuben loves Roald Dahl, but his favourite books at the moment are probably centred around Transfomers, which are genuine books and comics, despite being adapted from a TV series. So who has the right to tell a child that their chosen book isn’t valid? No one. This girl used the example of “people who shove their kids in minion outfits” well, my kids have the Book of the Film for Despicable Me, Cars, Cars 2 and Monsters Inc. So already, that’s beginning to look like an invalid argument and something that is pretty ignorant.

On top of that, what if you have a child that likes the Gruffalo, you have no time because you work 40 hours a week, the school lets you know on Monday what they want for Wednesday (happened to at least three friends) and you genuinely can’t afford to order that Amazon costume that costs £70 with its fancy purple prickles and knobbly knees for next day delivery, then what do you do? You can ask your child if they want to go in some slapped together outfit that consists of a couple of your old brown tshirts hastily stitched together and a bit of rum looking face paint OR you can send them in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle outfit that you bought 5 months ago on a whim and hope they will be comfy.

If that isn’t enough to put a cork in Miss Judgy-Pants, then I would pay decent money to see her come over and tell any four year old that they can’t go to school dressed as their favourite character (who may or may not be from a book) because, well, she’s a bibliophile and it upsets her. I’m pretty confident Reuben would be strongly thinking a couple of my favourite words that he knows he’s not allowed to use whilst donning his Transformer’s BumbleBee outfit (AND watching reruns on the TV… Because that’s his babysitter didn’t you know?)

So what are your thoughts? Do you agree that this is all just another way to pick at parents and is a bit pointless, or do you think she’s absolutely right, we should ban any characters that aren’t from books? Another alternative of course is to do away with the fancy dress altogether and go back to a time when kids just brought their favourite book to school to read with the class but where’s the fun in that? (unless you’re a bibliophile…)

H x


  1. Avatar
    Olivia D
    March 7, 2019 / 9:28 pm

    I don’t really mind what other people’s kids dress up as! superheroes etc all fine. Comics count as books IMO. What I did find a little weird was all the kids dressed up as Mrs Hinch because apparently writing an autobiography makes you a book character ? and the Ronaldinhos etc. Don’t really think they count (as much as I love Mrs Hinch) but it doesn’t upset me or anything…

  2. Avatar March 24, 2016 / 9:26 pm

    Hard for me to judge on this as my baby boy is 19 months old however he does try and replicate Post Man Pat and Fireman Sam when they are on TV by wanting to wear his hat so i do believe costumes will add more fun to this.

    • Harriet March 25, 2016 / 1:01 pm

      Absolutely Heather – it’s all about making it fun for them x

  3. Avatar
    March 12, 2016 / 8:49 am

    I agree that children should have a choice but there is nothing wrong with that choice being guided by the parent. I’m lucky with my little boy in that I told him that world book day was coming up and he needed to think about his favourite book character. He couldn’t decide on one so asked me if we could start reading a new book, so we trotted of to waterstones and found a young readers edition of Oliver. Having read the book along with my help ( he is only 5) he decided he would like to be Oliver for the day.
    We look at world book day as a way of discovering a new book together.

    • Harriet March 13, 2016 / 1:35 pm

      Oliver is a great choice Sam, lovely idea 🙂 H x

  4. Avatar March 11, 2016 / 11:05 am

    Hey comment is totally void on the basis of her not being a parent! I can’t stand the amount of crappy judgmental comments between parents, never mind when non parents pipe up too! World Book Day is all well and good but it won’t instill a love of books in kids, regular access to books and stories will so what they dress up as for one day a year is fairly irrelevant!xx

    • Harriet March 11, 2016 / 1:40 pm

      That is very true – if you don’t have books around, you can’t enjoy them! H x

  5. Avatar March 10, 2016 / 2:34 pm

    I think her comment is pretty irrelevant considering she doesn’t even have children! I think World Book Day is great for kids to be able to express themselves and it encourages reading. I don’t see the harm in letting them dress as their favourite character – as you said, most films are also books too x

    • Harriet March 11, 2016 / 10:16 am

      Couldn’t agree more – that is the thing isn’t it? As long as it encourages them then who cares?! H x

  6. Avatar March 9, 2016 / 11:58 pm

    I love world book day! My girls decided to dress up as characters wizard of oz and red riding hood and then took different books!

    • Harriet March 11, 2016 / 10:22 am

      Haha, standard! I love the way kids do that 🙂 H x

  7. Avatar March 9, 2016 / 11:03 pm

    haha you are quickly becoming one of my fave mummy bloggers – I love these recent honest posts. I have to confess to wearing ever so slight judgey pants when I saw a little girl dressed up as Elsa – but as you say, there are films made into books and i’m sure that there are loads of frozen books. I too am a bibliophile, but i would hardly have the energy to make my child wear what i considered as a true literary character costume, if they were tantruming to wear their Olaf costume! I agree with the comment Lucy said above about a good teacher making anything a learning opportunity – especially as costumes can be expensive and it is hard for some parents to have to do all of this stuff. xx

    • Harriet March 11, 2016 / 10:25 am

      Ahh you are too kind Amanda! Thank you! I think that is the thing isn’t it, a teacher can do something good with any outfit and of course, if it gets kids into books then that is all we need! H x

  8. Avatar March 9, 2016 / 11:00 pm

    I think kids and mamas should just do what the hell they want. If they have a literary character they love, great! If you have time to craft a handmade outfit, go for it! If your child wants to dress up as Spider-Man, or you only manage to pick up a buzz light year outfit from sainsburys then so be it. It’s not worth stressing over, us mamas have more important things to worry about WBD is not one of them!

    • Harriet March 11, 2016 / 10:25 am

      Amen Sarah! A-frikkin-men! H x

  9. Avatar March 9, 2016 / 10:30 pm

    I think World book day is a great idea for getting the children to read more books and having a bit more of an incentive. However i do think making them dress up in a character they know whether it is on TV or in a book ( most are in both these days! ) should be totally fine…

    • Harriet March 11, 2016 / 10:28 am

      Exactly Claire, whatever will get them thinking about books, right?! H x

  10. Avatar March 9, 2016 / 12:38 pm

    I think World Book Day is a wonderful way to get little ones into reading, exploring and getting creative. I say let them have fun with it because that’s the whole point.

    • Harriet March 9, 2016 / 8:31 pm

      Absolutely, I agree 100% – it’s all about the fun and hopefully that will encourage them to read more 🙂 H x

  11. Avatar March 9, 2016 / 9:55 am

    That’s so harsh. I really do think sometimes adults arrange ‘kids’ events that are only for the adult’s benefit though. Kids often don’t know the difference between a book character and a tv character because they both exist in fiction x

    • Harriet March 9, 2016 / 8:33 pm

      I agree Zoe, I think if it’s meant to be for kids then let them flow with it! H x

  12. Avatar March 9, 2016 / 7:37 am

    It’s funny, I had a friend post something similar on Facebook (although she is a parent so more qualified to judge I think). She was complaining that school had sent home the letter pointing out that it MUST be a literary character. She’d then spent the morning doing battle with her dressing-up-hating-five-year-old to get him into his Gruffalo costume, explaining that “No a superhero was not a literary character. And neither was Lightning McQueen” only to arrive at school and see that a load of parents had sent their children in to school in varying non-literary costumes that she’d told her son he wasn’t allowed to wear. And she pointed out that they should either make it a non-fiction day… which would be just as valid for their education. Or they should make sure that all parents get the memo on what constitutes a literary character.
    My difficulty with it is that while my little boy absolutely loves all books, his absolute favourites are non-fiction. Wouldn’t going in as a planet be just a valid if it’s a book he adores? It is world BOOK day after all. Not world fiction book day.
    Honestly, the way I see it, if the kids are happy and talking about books then anything should go. A good teacher should be able to make a learning opportunity out of it whatever they come to school as. x

    • Harriet March 9, 2016 / 8:40 pm

      Thanks for the great comment Lucy – I agree it’s defining what makes a literary character that is so hard. Like your son, Toby loves non-fiction, his choice would be dinosaurs but he would be asked which character he would be, not just accepted as a dinosaur from non-fiction. I totally agree with you that a good teacher would be able to spin the opportunity out of anything, and like you say, anything that promotes books and just gets children thinking about them and talking about them is a good thing. H x

      • Avatar
        March 11, 2016 / 11:33 pm

        My son has always loved reading but has generally been much more of a fact book than fiction book fan. He also hates dressing up. As you can imagine, getting him into a ‘character’ costume would be a struggle – if I insisted he went in one. A couple of years ago I dressed him in a yellow t-shirt with black masking tape hoops around it, his black sports leggings and his yellow trainers, and he went as a wasp as his favourite book at the time was a fact book about Bugs. We’ve also done what are commonly seen as the cop-out characters – Harry (and the bucketful of dinosaurs) and George (‘s Marvellous Medicine) so he could go in normal clothes with just a prop. I know a lot of people frown upon these characters, but I’m not willing to make my book-loving son unhappy on a day where he is meant to be celebrating his love of books, by insisting he goes to school feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious.

        • Harriet March 13, 2016 / 1:36 pm

          I totally agree! It’s about the love of books and whatever encourages that to me is a good thing. So much harder when your child prefers fact over fiction! H x

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