Why Book Week should be banned
FOR the past few years, I've done my best to ignore Book Week.
It has nothing to do with my feelings about books. I love children's books.
But each year, as the reminders are sent out, my loathing for Book Week is growing.
I might be a bit hazy on the details, because I make a point of retaining very little of the information conveyed to me, but my understanding is that your kids are supposed to take part in a parade where they dress up as a favourite book character.
Which, if you have kids who can operate a hot glue gun and a full suite of craft supplies, could conceivably be a fun, parent-child joint activity.
But that is also Utopia, and I don't live there.
The reality for parents, especially those of very small children, is that they have to spend hours pondering on which book might yield an acceptable character. And one that can be realistically rendered into a costume for the occasion using cardboard boxes pilfered from the local supermarket.
Then they have to make the bloody thing.
It's an expectation and a burden that many parents find impossible to live up to.
Never mind that I was once shamed in high school for my poor seamstress skills - I tried to create a costume for the role of Gertrude in Hamlet, and was swiftly dispatched to a costume shop so I would resemble the Queen of Denmark instead of a lady chimney sweep wearing a dress that appeared to be made from discarded handkerchiefs.
To bypass a family legacy of intergenerational craft skill-shaming, we've had a couple of goes at buying Book Week costumes, with varying success.
The first year we were obliged to participate in the barbarism that is Book Week, a gorilla costume was bought. It was, after purchase, decided that our child's favourite book was That's Not My Monkey (yes, we know that a gorilla isn't a monkey, but: desperate times).
The whole episode produced mixed results. We have photos of aforementioned child on Book Week parade day (or whatever it's called) crying because he didn't want to wear the gorilla head. Apart from that, it was a raging success.
Our second foray into Book Week? Literally no recollection. There may have even been a third celebration that I have no idea about.
Anyway this year, our third (or fourth) go, is looking much the same at the first.
A random costume has been purchased, but it's from a TV show, which obviously makes us look like yokels who don't know what a book is.
So a rabbit mask has now been bought and randomly assigned to The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit, based purely on ease of costuming. Yes, the child might have preferred to be a shark, penguin, cat or dog from another book, but I didn't find a costume for any of those creatures, so the rabbit has been retrospectively conjoined to a Beatrix Potter book.
Which, although it seems to be sneering at Book Week's intentions, speaks nothing of the love of books in our house.
I hate the expectation of that you will turn your house into some kind of costume gulag for Book Week, but we are huge consumers of children's literature. It's been one constant of parenting, and started just after birth.
Life with a newborn can be a bit of an unrelenting routine with a tiny stranger, and you might find, if you're at home with a small baby, that you've not spoken aloud for a whole day. Speaking to a baby can feel very strange but the perfect remedy, if you don't want to talk to the walls, is to read a book aloud to the wee bairn.
They might not understand the words, but it's a way of conveying both your love for them, and fostering a love of reading. The government website Raising Children also recommends reading because it also helps "promote language, literacy and brain development".
Despite my phoning it in when it comes to Book Week costumes, we will continue to voraciously consume books at our house. Which is precisely what the week should be about.
So this year, and I'm sure for many years to come, I'm going to carry on doing my best to ignore the demands of Book Week.
And as long as we keep reading, I'll feel no guilt whatsoever.
Victoria Hannaford is a writer and producer for RendezView.