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Words Fail Us


Did you read our blog last week about Comic Relief and the new sustainable Red Noses?


That was a change we welcomed but we know only too well that it's not the only time that children are the target of mass marketing and parents are pressured into buying more tat.


We like to concentrate on the positive but there are some things we just can't ignore. Few things get our back up as much as perfectly wonderful occasions being hi-jacked by big business, causing vast amounts of waste as well as much anguish for many people. The audacity of companies - shops primarily - spending vast amounts of their marketing budget trying to persuade us to part with our cash, while all the time trying to convince us that they are actually doing us a favour.


March sees not only Comic Relief, but also World Book Day.


Honestly, it's a great initiative, encouraging children to read more. Of course it is. We love having a day dedicated to the pleasure of reading.


If you visit our Community Fridge you will have noticed that we regularly give away books there too. We were saddened to read that one in eight children does not own a single book, so of course we congratulate World Book Day for giving a book to each child (though we question whether the system of giving out a book token works for every child).


But the commercialisation of the day breaks our hearts.


Days like this make it very difficult to stick to your guns and refuse to buy things, in this case, as often as not, nasty, nylon, flimsy clothes that your children do not need, will in all probability be worn only once (if you want it to be worn twice you must send your child in to school wearing a clownish costume, rolled at the legs and sleeves and just hope they don't trip over throughout the day and have a very nasty accident) and is very unlikely to be recyclable.


So what to do?


Do you stick to your principles and not care what your child, other parents, or the class teacher thinks?


Well, you know, you could.


Speaking from personal experience we can tell you that

  • young children don't really notice or care about these things, so don't pay too much attention when your child tells you that they will be "totally humiliated"

  • other parents are often just waiting for one of their number to be brave enough to say that they don't think this is a good idea

  • teachers are often encouraged to dress up too and those of our acquaintance don't like it at all

  • many schools have now abandoned the idea of asking children to dress up as they know how much pressure it creates for families


Let's assume that by March next year we will be back to normal. Schools will be open to all children and parents will be able to chat together either at the school gate or at Parent Council or PTA meetings.


There are so many better ways to celebrate reading than children dressing up in a costume that was, anyway, much more likely to have come from a film than a book.


What does it say when supermarkets give more space to costumes that do very little to spark imagination and a love of books than to books themselves?


Might we suggest you find other ways to celebrate World Book Day? Maybe by actually reading books?


And let's hope that whatever 'day' comes along in the coming year, we can celebrate it without doing irreparable damage to our world and our wallets.


We've been on a bit of a rant these last couple of week. Forgive us, normal service will soon be resumed :)

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