The busy teacher/parent’s guide to the perfect World Book Day costume

As World Book Day approaches (5 March for anyone who doesn’t have it etched into their brain yet), our thoughts have turned to the very important issue of The Costume.

If you want to avoid a class full of Harry Potters and Elsas (not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, but variety is the spice of life) – or indeed an eleventh hour panic about your own costume – the key is preparation. You need to help get your children (and crucially their parents) inspired early and leave plenty of time for charity shop trawling and cardboard painting!

With this in mind, here are a few costume ideas with literary credibility…

Lewis Carroll

Elena Schweitzer. Shutterstock

Alice in Wonderland is brilliant fodder for fancy-dress, whether it’s the eponymous Alice, the Mad Hatter, Tweedle-Dum and/or Tweedle-Dee, or the Red Queen. While you might not have a sky-blue dress and white pinny in the back of the wardrobe – this could be a good investment for many a Book Day to come. Alternatively you could get creative with a white T, marker pens and felt for a Tweedle-Dum/Tweedle-Dee look. Especially good for twins!…

Charles Dickens

debr22pics. Shutterstock

Tattered trousers, a granddad shirt, braces or a waistcoat, a few smudges on your face, and a flat cap – and you can legitimately claim to be any scruffy Dickensian orphan – from Oliver to Pip to David Copperfield. And for those of you out there with a carefully zipped up wedding dress still in its dust bag, how about layering on a few cotton-wool cobwebs to rock that Miss Haversham look. Or not…

Roald Dahl

alexsvirid. Shutterstock

We may not be able to transform ourselves into Quentin Blake-style illustrations (more’s the pity) but we can accessorise. I fully intend to send my son to school this year with a large cardboard peach. Guess what his name is…

Alternatively, if you aren’t lucky enough to be called James, you could try a mouse mask to channel Luke from The Witches – or if you’re a grown-up, gloves, wigs, thick makeup and constant remarks about children being smelly would also make for a passable costume from the same book.

A.A. Milne

Jules Selmes. Pearson Education Ltd

Animals are fairly easy to pull off, and Winnie the Pooh has more literary credibility than the majority of stuffed toys. Dress in orange and black, create a tail out of stripy tights, check out the local party shop for a pair of ears and voila – one Tigger ready to go. And if you want to add in a little Buzz Lightyear, who’s to say you can’t.

Roger Hargreaves


Mr Bump. Courtesy of Ladybird Books

The Mr. Men and Little Misses are the Kings and Queens of children’s literature. They’re cute, witty and there’s always a moral to the tale – ergo very educational!

And with such distinctive characteristics, they’ve each got something to imitate: some blue facepaint and some bandages and voila, one Mr Bump. Admittedly other characters may require a bit more arts and crafts, but a big cardboard box and some poster paint, and you’re just a colourful mess away from the perfect personalised costume.

Frank L. Baum

SophieWitch

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz… need we say more? There’s so much scope here – some silver spraypaint, corrugated cardboard and a funnel gets you a tinman, a blue and white checked school dress with some plaits and some red shoes etc etc, but we’re rooting for the wicked witch of the West because of the potential for green-face paint. Always a winner.

And some runners-up…

  • Anything Austeny or Bronte-esque – if you can find or make a dress!
  • The Dictionary/Thesaurus – fashion a cape out of pages from the dictionary, if you can bear to destroy one. A photocopier might help out with this!
  • Gothic Horror – Frankenstein, Dracula (with due care and consideration given to the audience!).
  • There’s this new thing called The Hunger Games apparently.
  • Charlie and Lola
  • Nursery rhymes
  • Narnia
     

And if all else fails…

Well, Harry Potter is popular for a reason… and Disney costumes are generally easy to come by. It’s not cheating if they made a book out of the cartoon, is it?!