I came downstairs this morning to find my five-year old son dressed as Danny from Danny the Champion of the World. He’s already left that cult where they dress as gypsy children, so I couldn’t figure it out. Then I remembered it was World Book Day.
I don’t think there was a World Book Day when I was a kid (or my school wasnt big on reading) but I wish there had been. Dylan, that’s my sons name (which is weird because it’s almost an anagram of Danny), loves the fact that he can dress up like his favourite character, go to school and discuss his favourite book.
My favourite book as a kid was Danny the Champion of the World. I’ve read it to Dylan about six or seven times in his six short years, so it’s no surprise that it’s his favourite book too. If World Book Day was around when I was a kid then there’s every possible chance that I would have dressed up as a different Roald Dahl character every year.
Roald Dahl stands for everything I think is important about reading at a young age, and now that I’m reading them all over again I’m even more convinced. His stories are completely different with regards to their worlds and the characters but there’s a common thread running through them all. The child is always the hero and usually the grown ups are the baddies. The child wins and everyone lives happily ever after.
The children are always orphans, or kids from poor families, and this helps to show their empowerment. As the story goes on they face some adversity and end up getting one over on the unreasonable authority figure. The hero usually questions the rules, finds their own way, goes against the grain, believes in themselves. The stories are always about gaining confidence, self-esteem, good manners, healthy rebellion, and empowerment.
These values are as important to me now as they were when I was six-years old and didn’t have a clue what was being subliminally implanted. When I read the books to my son I know that these messages are going in and I hope they fill the gaps that my other parenting leaves.
I watched Bob the Builder turn up, the White Rabbit, Tinkerbell, Papa Smurf and Yoda. When I sat there I knew that Roald Dahl was king. Unfortunately Danny the Champion of the World doesn’t look as different, or recognisable, as some of these other characters so Dylan kind of looks like he’s forgotten to dress up. Bless him.
You see, he’s not only learning these other great lessons by knowing the stories, but he’s also learning how to deal with disappointment and anti-climax. Those two are going to be important if he takes after his Dad.
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