Book Week is the perfect time to bring out your literary alter-ego. This year’s theme is ‘Books Light Up Our World’ so what better excuse for students and teachers alike to don their favourite book character costumes and let their most-loved fictional heroes and heroines shine? Dressing up has become an integral part of the Book Week tradition. This year, the Children’s Book Council is celebrating Book Week from Saturday 22 August – Friday 28 August, with the much-anticipated Book of the Year announcement taking place on Friday 21 August. With the big day fast approaching, it’s time to ask ‘What are you going as?’ Here are some easy Book Week ideas for teachers and students alike.
We want to take the stress out of Book Week so you and your kids can enjoy the day and celebrate reading without the fuss. Whether you’re handy with a sewing machine and keen to construct a character costume yourself, or you’d prefer to let us handle it and deliver a head-to-toe outfit straight to your door, here are some Book Week costume ideas to get you thinking. For more on making the most of Book Week, check out our pick of the best Book Week activities for teachers and parents.
Book Week Ideas for Guys
Boys can often be hesitant about reading, but Book Week is a great way to kick-start their interest by allowing them to bring a character to life. The library or local bookstore is a great place to browse for a book together so he can pick out something that catches his eye. Where’s Wally and Dr Seuss books are classics for a reason, but it’s also a good idea to start with one of his interests like ninjas or pirates and find a book on that theme.
Be infuriated no longer, Wally’s easy to find here! For teachers and students alike, Martin Handford’s iconic character is a fixture at Book Week parades. Wally is instantly recognisable and a childhood favourite.
4. Sherlock Holmes Magnifying Glass
If you prefer, you can hunt around your house for a striped shirt and put a costume together yourself, like Mike Chino did with his excellent DIY Waldo costume or use this as a guide for a kid’s version.
Cat in the Hat
Everyone loves The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss. “What would you do if your mother asked you?” Dress up as the Cat in the striped hat, of course! It’s one of the easiest costume ideas to put together on the fly with a bit of cardboard and some markers. Check out a template for the Cat’s hat here. If you’re the kind of cat that likes a challenge, take your crafting up a notch with this pop-up version of that trademark hat.
The Cat isn’t the only one with a box filled with Things – we’ve got a bunch of fun costumes and accessories too!
For Nighttime Ninjas, Samurai Kids and Ninja Meerkats alike, dressing up like a ninja from their favourite series is great fun for boys (and girls too). Whether they’re into the Hiro’s Quest series, Ninja!, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, nimbly navigate the Book Week parade with these costumes.
You don’t need to be a ninja with the sewing machine to whip up your own handmade version with Andrea’s DIY tutorial.
Book Week Ideas for Girls
For girls, the task of choosing a Book Week costume can be daunting — so many options! But when you hit on the right idea, you’ll know it. Here are some suggestions from the bestseller list that make great ideas for a Book Week parade.
Pearlie the Fairy
We’ll let you in on a little secret: a typical fairy princess costume like this DIY one from Kidspot works just fine for Pearlie, as long as you’ve got a string of pearls or a pearl headband for the authentic touch.
Olivia the Pig
Olivia the Pig is a hugely popular figure in young children’s literature, and the best part is, her outfit couldn’t be easier to put together. A plain red dress with a white collar, some black and white striped tights and a pair of pink piggy ears and you’ve got a costume! The simplicity of this costume makes it a great choice for teachers too, plus Olivia is instantly recognisable and a favourite with the kids, thanks to Ian Falconer’s distinctive illustrations.
Kidspot has easy instructions for making an Olivia the Pig costume from materials found at home, including a free template for making your own piggy ears. For the teachers, Super Teacher Katie shows how she got her Olivia costume ready and where she sourced the different parts of her costume.
Alice-Miranda at Sea
Jacqueline Harvey’s Alice-Miranda series is hugely popular. Unfortunately for fans, she’s most often depicted in her school skirt and blazer, which isn’t much fun for a Book Week parade! However, Alice-Miranda’s many adventures provide plenty of scope for creating a fun dress-up. This one’s inspired by Alice-Miranda at Sea.
1. Sailor Sweetie Girls Costume
Many girls have been inspired by Alice-Miranda and another of Jacqueline Harvey’s popular characters, Clementine Rose for Book Week — check out how they’ve made the characters their own on Jacqueline Harvey’s blog.
The Grouchy Ladybug
Eric Carle is best-known for the classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but The Grouchy Ladybug, also known as The Bad-Tempered Ladybird, is very popular with young readers too. Just make sure you read the whole book first so she knows what happens to ladybugs who pick fights!
Mrs Pierce made her own Grouchy Ladybug character costume for Halloween, which crafty teachers can check out on her blog Once Upon a Classroom.
Can’t sew? Not a problem. This tutorial for a no-sew ladybug costume will have your child ready to fly by Book Week.
We all know Mary from the classic 1964 Disney film, but your kids may know her better from Saving Mr Banks instead, which explored Mary Poppins’ literary origins as the creation of P. L. Travers. Our Mary Poppins costumes will have her looking practically perfect in every way.
Teachers can make their own supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Mary Poppins costume right from their own closet with this guide from Surf and Sunshine.
There can be a bit of controversy over whether comic book characters are kosher for the purposes of a Book Week parade, but we think that if comic books get a boy reading, it’s worth encouraging.
4. Captain America Age of Ultron Deluxe Boys Costume
This handmade superhero costume by Stacey from Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy is almost a no-sew project which ingeniously transforms an adult-size t-shirt into a superhero cape and mask. Marvel devotees can check out this collection of DIY superhero costume tutorials by seasoned cosplayers.
There’s a reason why fairytales have an enduring appeal for generation after generation. From the Brothers Grimm to J. M. Barrie, these stories reaffirm the kind of world we want for our kids — where good triumphs over evil and there’s always a happy ending. These easily recognisable characters remain favourites each year as a new generation enjoys the classics.
4. Disney Tinkerbell Platinum Edition Girls Costume
If you’re up for an adventure of your own, you can try making a Peter Pan costume yourself with these step-by-step instructions from Make It & Love It.
Alice in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll’s enduringly popular tale of a girl who falls down a rabbit hole to a weird and wonderful kingdom ruled by the short-tempered Queen of Hearts is a classic source for Book Week character costumes. See below for our pick of Alice in Wonderland costumes, or search our website for Mad Hatter fare.
Karen from Misha Lulu created a unique twist on the traditional Alice costume by constructing a wearable house out of cardboard for Isabela, based on the scene where Alice grows rapidly after eating a piece of cake that makes her grow. For a less complicated take, GiannyL’s Alice in Wonderland tutorial on YouTube shows you in less than three minutes how to make the costume yourself.
Queen and King of Hearts
Who wouldn’t like to spend the day shouting “Off with their head!” anytime they were slightly put out? For temperamental types–or teachers who really want to enforce their authority — the King or Queen of Hearts costumes will appeal to their inner tyrant.
Belle from Beauty and the Beast
Girls dressing as princesses for Book Week are a tale as old as time, but Belle is a particularly apt inspiration given that it’s her love of reading that initiates her bond with the Beast after he shows her his extensive library.
Pretend you’re trapped in a luxurious castle with plenty of time to spare and give this handmade Belle costume a try with Andrea’s step-by-step instructions.
What’s a fairytale without a wicked witch? From The Wizard of Oz to Hansel and Gretel, this storybook staple gives the girls a chance to play the villain. Another great idea for the teacher who will not be defied!
No cauldrons needed for whipping up this homemade homage to the Wicked Witch of the West by the sartorial sorceress Jessica Quirk from What I Wore.
Robin Hood and his band of merry men have inspired hundreds of literary incarnations based on folklore that has been around for many centuries. Just remember it was William Tell, not Robin, who shot an apple off his son’s head, so there’s no excuse for risking your friends’ scalps at school to show off your skills with the bow and arrow! Girls who are partial to Renaissance style will find their literary counterpart in Robin’s companion, Maid Marian.
Jen Spends Less created a fabulously frugal Robin Hood costume and a handmade Friar Tuck for Halloween with a few bits of felt and just a little bit of sewing.
Book Week Favourites
Any book is sure to enjoy a surge in popularity in the wake of a movie adaptation, and The Hobbit is no exception. The adventures of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit and Frodo, Samwise, Merry and Pippin in The Lord of The Rings enjoyed immense popularity as beloved creations of J. R. R. Tolkien well before Peter Jackson brought them to the big screen.
Lisa put together a Bilbo Baggins costume for Halloween, with an ingenious way to recreate the Hobbit’s hairy feet.
Where the Wild Things Are
We’ve all got a soft spot for Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, even Barack Obama, who has read it to children visiting the White House on several occasions. The touching tale of a boy who discovers a jungle inhabited by unfamiliar Wild Things has sold over 20 million copies worldwide and frequently tops readers’ lists of all-time favourite picture books.
1. Where the Wild Things Are Max Boys Costume
Venture into the unknown and attempt Max’s wolf outfit with Gabriella’s crafty tutorial using easy-to-find supplies.
For a last-minute dress-up, this mask uses wool and a paper plate to allow your kids to transform into Wild Things (just don’t ask us how to change them back!).
Taking inspiration from the Harry Potter series is a popular choice for witches and wizards alike. Bring some magic to Book Week as Harry, Ron, Hermoine, or one of J. K. Rowling’s memorable minor characters such as Luna Lovegood, Bellatrix Lestrange or Mad-Eye Moody.
You won’t need a wand to conjure up your own version at home with this easy how-to for Hogwarts hopefuls.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Roald Dahl’s classic has got it all: golden tickets, greedy children meeting grizzly ends, and of course, chocolate. Willy Wonka or an Oompa Loompa are instantly recognisable and are great for kids who want to bring a bit of colour and flair to the Book Week parade.
2. Roald Dahl Willy Wonka Boys Costume
There’s no secret recipe for making your own Wonka costume, it’s available right here, courtesy of Kidspot.
The Wizard of Oz
You don’t need to go all the way to Emerald city to find a costume for this Book Week favourite. Your son or daughter can skip down the yellow brick road as Dorothy or one of her companions, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, or the Scarecrow. Perhaps the shoe-stealing Wicked Witch of the West or Glinda the Good Witch are more appealing, or for something completely different, a flying monkey!
For the girls:
Ashley provides a very thorough guide to making your own Dorothy costume that will blow everyone away with the force of a Kansas cyclone.
For the boys: