World Book Day 2024: ‘Pure capitalism’: parents divided over stress and costs

“Happy ‘oh f*** it’s #WorldBookDay“to all the parents celebrating,” one dad posted on X, as overworked parents expressed frustration over last-minute costume choices.

Millions of boys and girls across the country celebrated World Book Day on Thursday by emulating everyone from chocolate factory guru Willy Wonka to footballer and unlikely children’s book star Jamie Vardy.

But a cost-of-living crisis has caused malaise among some parents who curse the annual event, with some schools even canceling it altogether.

One parent wrote on X: “Damn, the sheep love a forced act these days. Today is World Book Day and some of the outfits the children have worn. Mine just wore T-shirts with a book on them.”

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Richard Innes, head of content at Brew Dog, added to the discourse: “On behalf of all parents everywhere, allow me to say always and forever, without fear of exaggeration, that I hope the inventors of World Book Day go to hell to burn.”

Theater director Emma Bramley, posted on Nothing to do with books or reading, just pure capitalism!”

At Miskin Primary in Mountain Ash, the school council wanted to “make it as fun as possible, but not put a financial burden on those who can’t afford it,” said headteacher Fran Davies.

She said children “could come in jeans and a jumper, they could come in uniform with some make-up on, as if they were at St Trinians. Some could come dressed as wizards as if they were at Hogwarts”.

But not all families are so negative about the annual event and can find inspiration in unusual places.

Owen, 10, went to Paces School in Sheffield, a specialist school for children with cerebral palsy, dressed as Oompa Loompa.

Owen loved his Oompa Loompa outfit


His father Mark said: “I read about the viral Wonka Chocolate Factory in Glasgow and I thought it was getting bad press. Owen was very excited once he put on the outfit and face paint, he was looking forward to going out.

“From a cost perspective, I can completely understand it. Many families are currently struggling with the general cost of living, so any additional expenses can be a daunting task.

‘I am not sure [the stresses] of coming up with things, this comes more from the imagination and whether you actually have the time and even want to participate.”

Teddy, 8, attended Fiddlers Lane Primary School as Willy Wonka, with the aim of being the most popular child in school with dozens of Wonka bars to hand out to fellow pupils.

His grandmother Jackie told it The independent: “I was just thinking about it when mine were little, we made all the outfits so it was double the fun for them, but I think nowadays it’s more peer pressure from the kids than the parents.”

And Aj Durrani, 8, decided between Bob Marley and Martin Luther King “because they changed the world” before attending Bracken Edge Primary School in Leeds.

His mother Terri-Anne Hamer said: “He um, anyway, he would become an iconic person. He learned the I Have A Dream speech from YouTube, it absolutely melted my heart.

“It’s an ’80s Blue Brothers suit, but we took the sunglasses away and gave him a sign.”

Ms Hamer acknowledges that the costs can be prohibitive, but believes that overall the event is still something to celebrate

“The costs are ridiculous and schools know people are struggling,” she said. “Some schools have canceled it completely and then the kids get upset. This year, parents have become more creative. There isn’t much joy in the world right now, so if wearing a costume at a reasonable price makes him happy, then so be it.

“Especially if he wants to play an inspiring character, you can’t really say no, can you?”

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