World Book Day: at once a wonderful innovation to encourage enthusiasm about books amongst children and parents…. and a busy parent’s last-minute nightmare! It is Wednesday 2 March, midday, and whilst idly surfing facebook ahem doing important social media research, I notice that World Book Day is less than 24 hours away. A slight sweat forms. So much for engaging my Planning muscles. But fear not, Resourcefulness and Imagining to the rescue!
It is clear that, barring dressing-up outfits, a human character is the way to go in a last-minute rush. Mildred Hubble from The Worst Witch is nice and easy, as her outfit is essentially school uniform. Polly from Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf is also relatively simple, but a little non-descript. A pair of fairy wings added to almost any pretty dress and a prop such as a musical instrument or fake flower turns any 5-year-old into one of the Rainbow Magic fairies… Then inspiration strikes. About a year ago I got rather ahead of myself and read Pippi Longstocking to my then-four-year-old daughter, Evie. Although we didn’t get much past the second chapter, the gutsy character stuck in her memory, and when I suggested it on the way home, Evie was more than enthusiastic. She came up with her own course of action: we would read the first chapter, and ‘make’ an outfit. At least someone was working her Planning muscles.
Then Life got in the way. Life, with a capital L and a sharp elbow to the ribs. A poorly husband and a committee meeting encroaching on bedtime put the cosh on my daughter’s otherwise carefully laid plan. But don’t you worry about me. I’ll always come out on top: Evie declared that she would read the first chapter to herself in bed before going to sleep, and the rest would have to be dealt with before school in the morning…
Radio 4 has been gently nudging its way into my consciousness for around 20 minutes. At some point in the last half hour my three-year-old son has invaded the warmth of my bed, all nobbly knees and turned out toes. Emerging bleary-eyed from my duvet I am faced with my very own Pippi Longstocking! Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast, and this was a good ‘un. Good thoughts shining out of her face like sun beams, Evie stands before me, ready to present: she has put on her school summer dress because it is ‘just like Pippi’s’, along with the longest socks she could find, the clumpiest shoes, and a monkey backpack, embellished with a Post-it note bearing the name ‘Mr Nilsson’. It just shows what can happen if a person gets out of bed promptly.
“Good morning, Mummy. I have been ‘Resourceful’!” she chirrups.
With a smile of pride (but guiltily perhaps mostly relief) I congratulate her, and ask whether she wants me to re-do her plaited pigtails, which are now an embarrassing two days old. “No, they’re perfect, because Pippi’s plaits are messy.” That’s my girl.
Dressing up as characters from books, as well as from elsewhere, is an important Imagining tool, helping children to empathise with and understand their character more fully. How could you encourage your children to draw on the resources around them to do so? How could you stretch their Imagining muscles in this context?
Happy World Book Day!
(I have hidden several references from children’s literature in this post. Notice and Make Links to see how many you can find!)
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