*This is a commissioned post for Mumsnet and PizzaExpress*
It’s happening loves, World Book Day is on the horizon. I’m sure it’s only five minutes since the last one however frantic costume based negotiations have begun in the Team WGOAA household . . . basically this involves them coming up with whatever character they want to be and me figuring out how we can make it work with whatever we already own, with minimal effort.
I have a full on love / hate relationship with World Book Day if I’m honest. Fostering a love of books and reading? Yes I’m down with that. Encouraging children to share their favourite books with one another? Yes that’s a winner too. A whole day of celebratory book based activities in school? Yep, I’m all over it. Arguing with kids about whether Spiderman is really a character from a book or not and parents feeling guilted into shop bought “character” costumes from opportunistic supermarkets however, is really not my bag.
One World Book Day celebration we can all get on board with though involves pizza! Yes ok, stick with me. Pizza and books isn’t an obvious natural fit, I get that. However, PizzaExpress have joined forces with World Book Day in a special, first of it’s kind, collaboration!
We popped along to a local PizzaExpress earlier this week to investigate. Sometimes eating out with kids is plain hard work – stressing about them being noisy and disturbing other customers, worrying that they’re making a mess or wasting the food you’ve just spent your hard earned cash on and yet other times, it just all works. I think a lot of this is down to your choice of restaurant – choosing somewhere that’s child-friendly and naturally a little noisy is always going to make life easier. PizzaExpress is just that – family-friendly without being tacky or low quality. The children’s menu is far more varied than I would have expected, offering gluten-free and dairy-free options if needed. The staff were all super friendly and keen to make sure that the children were entertained and that we were all really well looked after. The food was delicious – we might have gone all out and had three courses – all in the name of research you understand? All in we had a really lovely evening where Dave and I were able to actually relax and enjoy our dinner whilst making the most of some quality time with the kids – and you all know what a win that feels like when it comes good!
It’s not unusual for children’s menus to feature a bit of colouring in or a word-search to try and keep the little one’s busy whilst they wait for their food but PizzaExpress have really upped their game on this collaboration with World Book Day. With a focus on encouraging kids to “use their imagination and unleash their creativity” through reading and sharing a story at PizzaExpress – this isn’t a “sit down and shut up” job but more a “get the whole family involved and have a proper conversation” situation which I absolutely love. Ben and Dave spent ages playing snakes and ladders in the standard children’s activity pack whilst the girls got on with the colouring in the special World Book Day inserts.
The special edition “Dough Ball Times” not only includes a £1 book token but is packed full of suggestions for age-appropriate texts (featuring some of our favourites like “The Day the Crayons Quit” and “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” or “Wonder” along with others we’ve not come across before like “Claude in the City” or “Bumble Bear“) for your child to put their book token towards!
The main focus though of the Dough Ball Times is the special World Book Day and PizzaExpress bookmark competition. You can enter using the special Piccolo menu insert or online here. It’s super simple to enter – simply design your bookmark, take a photo and upload into the pizzaexpress.com/worldbookday with first prize for each age group being a £250 book token! (That’s a lot of books!)
If you go into PizzaExpress on World Book Day itself (1st March in case you’ve forgotten!) then you will find that staff are all dressing up for the occasion and customers can vote for the “best-dressed” PizzaExpress restaurant team!
It had been ages since we’d taken the kids to PizzaExpress but I can assure you, after such a lovely evening, we’ll be back very soon!