World Book Day: Dressing up as your favourite character

On World Book Day on the 5th of March this year, many schools in the UK had a ‘non-uniform’ day, and children were encouraged to dress themselves up as a character from a book that they love.

Many children dressed up as characters such as Spiderman, Batman and Superman, Ironman, Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Dracula, Wally, or Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

Normally my son doesn’t like dressing up as other characters, but this year, he decided to dress up as his favourite character, The Doctor. The Doctor is the main character from the television show Doctor Who, the longest running sci-fi series of all time. He is an alien who travels in a time machine and fights aliens and visits new worlds. The show’s longevity stems from The Doctor’s ability to change his appearance, with every version (or incarnation) being completely different from the last. There have been 12 Doctors.

Dressing up as a Doctor on World Boo Day 2015 Dressing up as a Doctor on World Boo Day 2015 Dressing up as a Doctor on World Boo Day 2015

My son told me his scarf is the Fourth Doctor’s, the hat is the Seventh Doctor’s, and the trench coat, shirt and tie are the Tenth Doctor’s.

My 14-year-old son started watching Doctor Who at the age of seven, and is a big fan of The Doctor. The Doctor Who followers call themselves whovians. My son’s bedroom is filled with Doctor Who memorabilia. Walls are covered with Doctor Who posters. His Christmas present from me last year was a crocheted Doctor Who themed blanket.

My son received this framed poster of all Doctors and their signatures from his grandparents on his birthday.

My son received this framed poster of all Doctors and their signatures from his grandparents on his birthday.

I think I’m pleased my son’s favourite character is an evil-fighting Doctor, quirky, imaginative, powerful and yet emotional. Doctor Who stories seem intriguing and inspiring to him, and he reads all Doctor Who related books, magazines, and gossips. He watches Doctor Who films and listens to the audiobooks too. My son is so passionate about Doctor Who that most of his blog posts are dedicated to Doctor Who.

In another secondary school, on World Book Day, a 11-year-old boy went to school dressed up as Christian Grey, the male character from explicit novel Fifty Shades of Grey. The boy wore a grey suit and carried cable ties and an eye mask. The boy’s school understandably excluded him from his school’s World Book Day celebrations. Call me old-fashioned, I was most baffled that the boy’s mother (a teacher) thought it was acceptable for his 11-year-old son to identify himself as an erotic character. Mother and son both thought the dressing up was meant for a bit of fun and tongue-in-cheek.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have dressing up days. We went to school in full uniform all year, and entertainment was not part of our education. My son’s education seems to contain a lot of ‘fun’ elements that I never seemed to have. Throughout my son’s education in England, there are all sorts of excuses for non-uniform days, from World Book Day, Comic Relief Day (Red Nose Day), BBC Children in Need fundraising day, and today, the second of April, World Autism Awareness Day, where everyone was encouraged to wear something in blue today to show solidarity with people in the autistic spectrum.

When my son was in primary school, sometimes he was asked to dress up as a Roman peasant or a Victorian character. My son loved reading about history, but would not want to dress up. Dressing up days therefore had caused a lot of stress for me as a mother. I watched other children walking to school in ancient costumes, while my son was determined to wear school uniform only. I would apologise to teachers that my son did not like to engage in dressing up, but I know the teachers kept encouraging him to change his mind.

I’m so pleased that those Roman or Victorian time and his primary school years were over, as I found no joy myself in those dressing up days, which added unnecessary stress and embarrassment to me at times. Now my son could decide if he wants to dress up. Finally as a proper teenager, now he is happy to dress up as The Doctor, the character that he can relate to, and wish to be one.

10 thoughts on “World Book Day: Dressing up as your favourite character

  1. Gallivanta

    Your son makes a wonderful Dr Who. I always had mixed feelings about dress-up days; the main thing is that the child should be able to choose whether or not they want to participate.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      I think dressing up increases pressure to some pupils and parents. Some people spend lots of money to buy costumes to impress others. A friend of mine spent £30 to buy an Elsa blue costume online – but she was not the only Elsa in the whole school. Of course it is debatable if Elsa is actually from a book (or just a Disney character – though it has the Snow Queen reference). Many children wore onesies.

      School should be a place to enlighten children, but sometimes it is also a place to make people conform – dressing up is a form of conformity, and it may not suit every child and I hope school should respect that some children think differently.

      1. Gallivanta

        I would hope so, too. And, hopefully, they recognise the cost is too great for some parents. We didn’t have dress up days at school but I remember, at home, we had a dress up box which contained an assortment of clothing we could use to dress up as princesses or cowboys or whatever we wanted to.

  2. Helen Williams

    Ben looks brilliant! But I agree that having so many dressing up days isn’t good because I can imagine it becoming very competitive amongst the parents, and it also exposes the children to potential ridicule if they choose something ‘uncool’.

    I don’t remember ever having dressing up days at school, although we would have ‘mufty’ days, when we would pay £1 not to wear school uniform. I remember fretting so much about what to wear on these days, because it had to be just right. Here in Munich, children don’t wear school uniforms at all, so I just hope that as my boys get older they don’t feel under too much pressure to wear whatever is currently ‘trendy’.

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  5. Bill Hayes

    Those days that are deemed uniform free days are called mufty at our school. Last week, my youngest son, 14 was the only pupil to have not heard of the fact. He spent the whole day rather mopish, standing out in his uniform amidst a myriad colours and styles of other’s clothing.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      In my son’s school, if you wear uniform on a non-uniform day, you don’t have to give to the charity (£1). Perhaps your son has saved himself £1 if the same rule applied. Thanks for your comment, Bill.

  6. qiquan

    When I was a child in the 80s, I love and hate Dr. Who because it is kind of quirky the starting musics. I love it because it is very imaginative. That season was played by Tom Baker.


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