100 Dress Up Ideas For World Book Day

10th February 2017


It’s not long until World Book Day 2017 (Thursday 2nd March!). If you are looking for book related dress-up ideas then look no further! Here are 100 ideas below ranging from DIY options that a child could do with a bit of help or ideas for fancy dress costumes you may well have. There’s also quite a good choice of the obvious options in the supermarkets at the moment.

Last year Seren dressed up as Clara from The Nutcracker (I know, it’s a ballet really but we have a lovely book of the story illustrated by Alison Jay) and this year she wants to go as Little Red Riding Hood. She has a red dress already and I said that I could make a hooded cape, but, no, she wants a ‘proper’ costume from a shop <rolls eyes> but hey that will make things easier.


Roald Dahl characters:
1. The BFG – wear trousers, a shirt and waistcoat and make your own giant ears using paper plates – there’s a guide to how to make these on the Roald Dahl website.
2. Sophie from The BFG – wear a pink dress or nightie and a pair of glasses.
3. Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – pretty easy this one, make a golden ticket and wear jeans and a jumper.
4. Willy Wonka – there’s another fabulous costume tutorial from the World Book website or I’ve also spied costumes in the supermarkets. Don’t forget the sweets! (Real or the school may prefer ones made from cardboard).
5. Matilda – wear a dress, tie a red ribbon tied in your hair and carry a pile of books.
6. Miss Honey or Miss Trunchbull – the teachers from Matilda. Formal clothes (more dowdy for Miss Trunchball), wear glasses and carry a register and red pen.
7. Mr Twit from The Twits –  make a beard by tying various lengths of brown wool from a piece of elastic that will go comfortably over your child’s face (under their nose). Draw or print out pictures of food and stick them onto the wool. Wear dirty and dishevelled clothes and it’s a great excuse not to have a bath the night before!
8. Fantastic Mr Fox – smart trousers, jacket or waistcoat with a fox mask or a face painted as a fox. Use brown furry fabric to make ears to stick onto an headband.
9. James from James & the Giant Peach – make a giant peach out of cardboard or papier mache and wear your own clothes.
10. George from George’s Marvellous Medicine – normal clothes and a bottle of ‘Marvellous Medicine’ and spoon.

Enid Blyton characters
11. Anne, George, Dick or Julian from the Famous Five books – wear old fashioned 1950s looking summer clothes (shorts, jumpers or dresses and cardigans) and carry a picnic including a pretend bottle of ginger beer. Slick boys hair down with a side parting and wear girl’s hair in pigtails or with an Alice band. Don’t forget a pencil and notepad for writing down clues.
12. Darrell or Felicity from Malory Towers – old fashioned school uniform, prefect badge and hockey stick.
13. Moon Face from the Magic Faraway Tree – make a white or silver moon face mask out of cardboard and elastic and wear regular smart clothes.
14. Saucepan Man from the Magic Faraway Tree – cut out cardboard saucepans and paint them grey or cover in tin foil. Stick or sew them to old grey clothes and take a real saucepan to wear as a hat.

Julia Donaldson characters:
15. The Ladybird from What the Ladybird Heard – ladybird costumes are easy to come across in the shops but also quite easy to make using a combination of black tights or trousers and a red top or dress. Stick black cardboard dots onto the top or draw them on with permanent marker and make some wings using red cardboard and more black dots and fashion over shoulders and under arms using elastic. Make antennae using a black headband, black pipecleaners and cardboard circles.
16. The policeman from What the Ladybird Heard – if you have a police dress-up outfit then here is your excuse to wear it!
17. Betty O’Barley or Harry O’Hay from The Scarecrow’s Wedding. Old clothes, wellies, gloves and a hat – dungarees for Harry and a dress for Betty. Use glue or strong tape to stick yellow wool to the edges of the hat and armholes to look like straw. They could carry a basket with the bits collected for the wedding such as bells, pink flowers and white feathers.
18. The Smartest Giant in Town – an oversized white nightie and sandals.
19. Stickman – dress in brown with green leaves attached to you. Colour your face in with brown facepaint.
20. The girl or family on the beach from Stick Man – find an appropriate looking stick to make into Stick Man by drawing a face on it. Dress in your own clothes or beach clothes and accessories and carry Stick Man.
21. The Singing Mermaid – wear a mermaid fancy dress costume. Or wear the costume to be the Mermaid Princess from the Princess Poppy book or the Little Mermaid.
22. The Gruffalo – there’s Gruffalo costumes (or onesies) aplenty in the supermarkets or there’s a costume idea here.
23. Princess Mirror-Belle or Ellen from Princess Mirror-Belle and the Dragon Pox – wear pyjamas and one slipper and use facepaint to cover your face and arms in red spots.
24. The witch from Room on the Broom – wear a Halloween costume or wear black, make a cape from a bin bag and a hat from black cardboard (hat tutorial here). Plait your hair and carry your broomstick, cauldron and toy frog, cat, bird and dog if you have them.
25. A fisherman from Tiddler – wear waterproofs and a rain hat. Carry a fishing rod (can be made using a stick, string and hook on the end made out of tinfoil) along with fish made from cardboard.

L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz characters:
26. Dorothy – an old fashioned blue or blue check dress with a white top underneath, hair in pigtails and ruby red shoes. Carry a basket with a toy dog in.
27. The Scarecrow – similar to Harry O’Hay, old clothes and hat with yellow wool stuck around the edges to look like straw.
28. The Tin Man – grey clothes, use face paint to make a grey face and silver kitchen funnel (use tin foil on a plastic funnel) for a hat).
29. The Lion – wear brown or yellow clothes and make a mane by tying lots of bits of yellow / brown wool to a piece of elastic that stretches from under your chin to your head. Or make a smaller mane by sticking wool or furry fabric onto a hair band (you could stick ear shapes onto a hair band too) and paint your face. Make a tail using one leg from a pair of tan tights stuffed with paper and with bits of yellow wool stuck on the end.
30. The Wicked Witch – the same costume as the witch from Room on the Broom but this time with a green face and carrying just a broomstick.
31. Glinda the Good Witch – a white or pink ‘princess’ dress with crown, fairy wand and a sparkly face.

David Walliams’ characters:
32. The Boy in the Dress easy, a boy in a dress!
33. The Demon Dentist – a doctor or dentist dress-up costume or white lab coat or shirt, spattered in red paint to look like blood. You could probably get some disposable masks and gloves from your dentist if you ask nicely (or via eBay). Carry a toy drill if you have one.
34. Gangsta Grannygreat costume ideas her on the World Book Day website.

Fairytale characters:
35. Cinderella – An old dress, apron and cleaning cloth or a fancy, party dress and just one shoe. Take a toy mouse friend.
36. Goldilocks – this is an easy one for a blonde child! Though a wig or plaits made of yellow wool tied to a hair band also work. Carry a pretend bowl of porridge or 3 teddy bears of different sizes.
37. Little Red Riding Hood – make a cloak out of a red sheet and fasten it over your child’s head with a safety pin (you could sew ribbons on so it tied under the chin if you wanted to). Carry a basket of toy food.
38. One of the Three Little Pigs – make a snout with a paper cup painted pink, cut two little circles out of the front for nostrils then create a hole each side to add elastic to tie around the child’s head. Make ears by sticking two triangular bits of pink cardboard to a head band or ribbon and wear pink.
39. Rapunzel – A wig of very, very long hair made using wool tied to an alice band and plaited.
40. The Snow Queen – because your child still wants to dress up as Elsa!

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland characters:
41. Alice – blue dress, white pinny and the famous Alice band. She could carry a small bottle with the label ‘Drink Me’ on and a white rabbit toy.
42. The Mad Hatter – wear eclectic smart clothes and make a hat a bit like Willy Wonka’s in the tutorial linked to above. Tie a ribbon around the hat, add feathers and a piece of paper with 10/6 on. Paint your face like Johnny Depp’s in the film.

JM Barrie’s Peter Pan:
43. Peter Pan – wear green leggings and a raggedy green t-shirt. Add a cap made from green felt.
44. Tinkerbell – wear a green dress and make wings from cardboard and attach over shoulders and under arms with elastic or buy ready made wings. Wear hair in a bun. Add pompoms to the front of your shoes.
45. Captain Hook – wear a smarter pirate style costume, trousers, shirt, big buckle belt, jacket and hat. Make a hook out of tin foil.

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter characters:
46. Harry Potter – wear a wizard costume or make a black cloak from a black sheet or bin bag. Add dress up glasses, a wand (can be made from a stick) and make a Marauder’s map. Draw a scar with facepaint.
47. Ron Weasley – costume and wand like Harry though carry a toy pet rat and some Bertie Bott’s magic beans.
48. Hermione Granger – costume and wand like Harry, carry a toy cat and a pile of school books labelled ‘Charms’, ‘Ancient Runes’ and ‘History of Magic’.

CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia characters:
49. Peter, Susan, Lucy or Edmund – old fashioned 1950s child’s clothes or medieval royal style outfits of simple robes and crowns.
50. Prince Caspian – brown top and trousers with a sword, bow and arrow made from cardboard.
51. The White Witch – a white dress and shoes, a grand white cloak made from fake fur fabric, face painted white and a crown made from plastic icicles (Christmas decorations!) stuck onto a hair band.
52. Aslan -a lion costume as per the one from the Wizard of Oz above.

53. Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar – dress in green, use green face paint and make an antennae using a hair band, pipe cleaners and cardboard circles or pompoms for the ends. For an extra touch, make the end of the caterpillar by filling one leg from a pair of green tights with paper, section off using elastic bands and fasten as a ‘tail’ using a safety pin. Carry a huge swirly lollipop make of cardboard.
54. Or the butterfly from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Dress in black or brown top and leggings. Make your wings using a white sheet – fold in half and cut out a wing shape out of the folded pieces so you have two wings of the same shape. The wings should be as wide as the child’s outstretched arms Decorate one half with paint and glitter then fold over so the same pattern is on both sides. Attach to the child using safety pins at the top and bottom. At the end of the top part of the wings fasten some ribbon or elastic to tie round the child’s wrists so they can flap their wings. Make an antennae as with the caterpillar and ladybird.
55. The boy from How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers – wear jeans and a red and white striped top and make a star out of cardboard and tin foil to carry.
56. The star from How to Catch a Star – make two large stars and fasten around your body tabard style using string or elastic.
57. A dalmatian from 101 Dalmations by Dodie Smith – wear a white t-shirt and white or black trousers. Draw spots onto the white t-shirt using permanent marker. Make ears using cardboard and stick them onto a hair band and paint their face.
58. Alex Rider from the teen spy novels by Anthony Horowitz – wear regular clothes and a backpack, make an agent ID card.
59. James Bond from the classic Ian Fleming novels – a smart suit and bowtie and some spy accessories.
60. Katniss Evergreen from the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins – there’s a tutorial to make a Katniss costume on the World Book Day website.
61. Fern from Charlotte’s Web by EB White – dungarees, a checked shirt, wellies and carry a toy pig.
62. Tintin from the books by Georges Remi – brown shorts, a white polo shirt and a light blue jumper and hair gelled into Tintin’s quiff.
63. Captain Haddock from Tintin – black trousers, old navy jumper with an anchor made from cardboard and glued to front, black captain’s hat with another anchor.
64. Captain Underpants from the books by Dav Pilkey – make a red cape from a cheap sheet and wear a pair of red underpants or swimming trunks over ordinary clothes.
65. Dr Suess’s The Cat in the Hat – wear black and make a hat and bowtie and paint your face as per this tutorial.
66 & 67. Charlie or Lola from the books by Lauren Child – write ‘Charlie’ on an old t-shirt and wear normal clothes. Wear a patterned dress and bunches for Lola.
68. A Rainbow fairy-from the books by Daisy Meadows – wear a very brightly coloured fairy costume, wings (buy or make) and wand.
69. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren- a patchwork style old dress, knee length socks with boots plus pipe cleaners inserted into plaits to get them to stick out!
70. A crayon from The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers – pick your child’s favourite colour (or whichever colour matches a long sleeved top and trousers / leggings!) and use the tutorial on the World Book Day website to make a costume.
71. Claude the dog from the books by Alex T. Smith – another fabulous tutorial on the World Book Day website.
72. There’s a similar tutorial for Spot the Dog from the much loved books by Eric Hill.
73. Harry from Harry and his Bucketful of Dinosaurs by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds – dress in normal clothes and add a plastic bucket of toy dinosaurs.
74. Horrid Henry from the books by Francesca Simon and Tony Ross – normal messy clothes and a mischievous expression!
75. Dirty Bertie from the books by Alan MacDonald – normal messy clothes with some added mud. Don’t wash or brush hair before hand.
76. Peter Perfect from the Dirty Bertie books – very smart casual clothes, shiny shoes and not a hair out of place.
77. Angelina Ballerina from the books by Katharine Holabird – if you have a ballet outfit then add a mouse ears (bought or made using a hair band and ears made of felt or cardboard glued on) and use face paint to add whiskers and a mouse nose.
79. Katie or the Infanta Margarita from Katie and the Spanish Princess by James Mayhew (or both characters in one costume as they swap clothes in the book) – Katie starts in jeans, a red coat and red ribbons in her bunches and Margarita is in a very fancy, princess costume and pink ribbons. Carry a copy of one of the paintings from the book.
80. Mildred Hubble from The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy – a school uniform with a witches cloak and hat over it.
81. Funnybones from the books by Janet and Allan Ahberg – wear a skeleton costume or paint a skeleton onto an old black top and trousers with white paint.
82. Or another Ahlberg character, Burglar Bill is a fun dress-up option, tutorial here.
83. Dracula by Bram Stoker – a black cloak made from a black sheet or bin bag, with cardboard stuck into the top to make it stick up, slicked back hair, white top and trousers. Add fangs and maybe a splatter of blood made with facepaint.
84. Dennis the Menace from the books by Steven Butler – a striped red and black top and black shorts. You could make cardboard hair using this tutorial.
85. Wimpy Kid from Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney – a white t-shirt, black shorts and rucksack with a Wimpy Kid mask made from white cardboard and black marker. Stick a lolly stick onto the bottom of the mask to hold it to your face.
86. Joyce Lankester Brisley’s Milly-Molly-Mandy – wear a candy pink and white striped dress (draw stripes across an old white dress) and old fashioned shoes and hairstyle.
87. The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett – if you have a Victorian costume this is a good one, or a long dress, pinafore and cap.
88. Mary Poppins by PL Travers – you can buy Mary Poppins costumes or create one with a long black skirt, white shirt, red bow tie, white apron and black Edwardian-style hat. Carry a large, black umbrella.
89. Thomas the Tank Engine – paint a large cardboard box with front and back design of Thomas. Cut these out and wear as a tabard, by attaching straps at the top with string or elastic. Paint the child’s face blue to match.
90. Elmer the Elephant from the books by David McKee – wear bright clothes and make a colourful trunk and ears using the tutorial from the World Book Day website.
91. Little Miss SunshineMr Bump or Mr Happy from Roger Hargreaves’ Little Mr & Miss books – wear all blue for Mr Bump and wrap yourself in bandages. Make cardboard shapes to wear for the other two using tutorials from the World Book Day website.
92. Paddington Bear from the series by Michael Bond – a duffel coat with a ‘Please look after this bear’ label, red wellies and a red hat. Carry a jar of marmalade and a small suitcase.
93. Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit – wear all brown with a blue cardigan. Make a fluffy white tail out of cotton wool or fluffy fabric and pin to trousers with a safety pin. Make rabbit ears with brown furry fabric or cardboard and stick to a head band. Draw whiskers and a rabbit nose with face paint.
94. The Tiger from the Tiger Who Comes to Tea by Judith Kerr. An option if you have a tiger print onsie! Or take old orange clothes and paint black stripes on. Attach black furry fabric to wrists and ankles and make a tail by stuffing one half of a pair of orange tights with paper and attaching furry fabric to the end. Secure to trousers with a safety pin. Make ears out of furry fabric or cardboard and attach to a headband. Paint face with tiger stripes!
95.  Tom Gates from the books by Liz Pichon- there’s a very simple mask idea on the World Book Day website.
96. Flavia, Nupia, Jonathan or Lupus from the Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence – use a sheet as a toga or a large white t-shirt and belt to make a tunic. There’s also a tutorial on the Roman Mysteries website of how to make a ‘stola’ or Roman dress.
97. A graphic book character such as Superwoman, Spiderman, Batman, Superman – if you already have one of these costumes even better!
98. Nancy Drew from the series by  Carolyn Keene – slightly old fashioned, prim clothes with an Alice band and jumper tied over your shoulders. Carry a magnifying glass. notebook and pen.
99. A sleepover character from Sleepovers by Jacqueline Wilson or the Sleepover Club books – wear pyjamas, slippers and take a teddy and toothbrush!
100. Charles Dickens’  Oliver – a raggedy boy with a dirty face and old fashioned cap. Carry a bowl to beg for ‘more’.

The images in the mosaic picture above come from the World Book Day tutorials. This post was first written in February 2016 then updated with some new ideas and amended links in February 2017. 


  • Reply Madeline 26th February 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Wow, brilliant list! I’m now slightly disappointed that my son’s class have just been told to wear their pyjamas for world book day! Will have to pin this list for reference for next year though. x #TheList

    • Reply Sian 26th February 2016 at 2:20 pm

      Thank you! I think a lot of schools have some sort of theme. Is he excited about wearing his PJs to school? My daughter would love it!

  • Reply Shirley Cheng 12th May 2017 at 11:24 am

    Hello Sian, I love your dress up ideas. Your blog is very helpful to every mother. These tips are so perfect to follow. Thanks for sharing such an amazing blog.

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