This year there are rumblings about dressing up for World Book Day, and that dressing as a Disney princess or spiderman does nothing to promote reading. Who can argue with that? But because that is true do we throw it out, or embrace and adapt it?
Better still, see it as a tool in the literacy workbox. In my Year 2 classes my favourite outfit was my wolf onesie. Easy to wear, if a little hot, and so full of potential. To begin with I was very fond of threatening to eat any naughty children. In a challenging and unrelenting bank of behaviour management techniques it was blissful light relief. It was silly, but a well-aimed woolfy look worked wonders with even my more tricky pupils.
Secondly a strategic outfit can be very useful. Which wolf am I? Which books do I appear in? Am I the same in Mr Wolf’s Pancakes and in Little Red Riding Hood? Perhaps these wolves are related rather than the same wolf. Let’s look at the animations of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and see how some wolf relationships lead to other actions and stories. Which wolf would you be? Would you have eaten the children or saved them?
I could fill this page with questions that could take us in any direction I wanted to take them. Perhaps the trick is to stop being so random and pull the dressing-up back and tailor it to fit the literacy agenda. Guiding the children and parents to dress in support of your current topic could lead to discussions at home about what they are studying and what it involves, which is always a good thing. It could be broad or narrow: Traditional tales, a Julia Donaldson character, an animal from the fact books we have been studying….
Now here I must confess that I have a bias in this discussion. My working life now mainly features me running around in a kirtle (woollen 17th century dress) and leading sessions on the Great Fire of London. I firmly believe having an example of the clothing adds to the session and is not merely some strange personality streak. In a school climate that can drag things down with unrelenting demands isn’t there room for some levity?
Maybe here is the final point, rather than an add-on, World Book Day would be easier if it was integrated. I’m sure it is for some, but the problems, I think, arise for many because suddenly you realise it is World Book Day next week….what are we going to do? Quick dress up and give out the vouchers!
Of course, I could just be wrong and looking for an excuse to dress up, along with all the other children that haven’t had a chance to dress-up in school since Reception Class.