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73% of parents find World Book Day a hassle

children reading books

Roald Dahl and Harry Potter characters head up the list of popular costumes

As children across the land head off to school or nursery dressed up to celebrate World Book Day, a new Mumsnet survey of over 1700 parents reveals that 73% of parents think World Book Day is ‘a major hassle’ or ‘a bit of a hassle’ – but 77% say that nevertheless, it’s a great way to celebrate reading and books.

For World Book Day 2017, the top five costume choices worn by Mumsnet users’ children were:

  • Roald Dahl characters: 20%
  • Harry Potter characters: 12%
  • Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler characters: 9%
  • Fairy story or nursery rhyme characters: 7%
  • Superheroes: 7%

Almost all parents (91%) think characters from children’s fiction books are legitimate costume choices for World Book Day, but are less indulgent when it comes to generic princess and pirate costumes (seen as legitimate by 27%) and animals (25%) – although a hardy 18% say that as far as they’re concerned, it’s fine for children to wear whatever they like to mark the day. Nearly one in ten (9%) say they have felt ‘judged or disapproved of’ by teachers or other parents for a costume their child has worn.

Where parents and children disagree about which costume is appropriate, in the majority of cases (52%) the child gets their way.

16% of parents say they had less than a week’s notice of the need for a costume in 2017, including 2% who had one day’s notice and 1% who didn’t find out until after their child had arrived at school. Convenient ready-made costumes dominate, with 34% of parents taking this route, while 33% say they ‘cobble something together’ from the wardrobe and dressing up box, and 6% give up and send their children to school in uniform or ordinary clothes.

Mumsnet CEO Justine Roberts said: “Each year, when they finally discover the letter that their child has left in the furthest recesses of the book bag, parents on Mumsnet ask frantically for last-minute costume ideas. Thankfully there are lots of brilliant, creative suggestions for creating the perfect Hermione or Charlie Bucket using only craft paper, glue and an old pair of tights. Despite the inconvenience and occasional howls of protest, it’s one of those annual celebrations that most parents look back on with fondness once their children have outgrown it. If nothing else, it’s an excellent source of ridiculous photos to whip out at eighteenth birthday parties."

Read the full data here.