World Book Day lifesavers

World Book Day is a great opportunity to encourage reading. But for many working dads the requisite costume is just one more thing to organise. We’ve got some last minute help.

Boy dressed as Harry Potter for World Book Day


It’s the day that parents dread this week: World Book Day.

For most working dads that means seeing their kids off to school in a costume on Thursday morning. But before you get to that point you’ve got to pull the costume together.

And most of us are already at capacity juggling everyday home life with a career.

With that in mind the folk at Busy Bees nurseries have come up with some last minute lifesavers. Easy costumes that aren’t that difficult to fashion from clothes and items around the home.

Deena Billings, Head of Quality at Busy Bees, said: “We love celebrating World Book Day at our centres as it provides a great opportunity for educators and parents alike to share their favourite stories and organise fun activities with their children. 

“We understand that coming up with costume ideas can be tricky, so we want to give parents a helping hand, by offering our top tips for creating an easy World Book Day costume from scratch with items found at home. We hope we’ll inspire parents and their children across the country to get creative together.”

Don’t overthink it

The simplest ideas are often the best ones, as many famous book characters wear ordinary clothes. All it takes is one or two special accessories to make the outfit really stand out.

Charlie Bucket, the hero of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, a children’s favourite, wears normal winter clothes – just add a golden ticket, which can be made at home with the children or printed, and a chocolate bar with printed or handmade ‘Wonka Bar’ wrapping. 

Paddington Bear’s iconic look can be recreated using a blue coat and a red hat, while an old witches’ hat and a broomstick can be used for a Room on the Broom inspired costume. Leggings, a black leotard and a red ribbon can also be used as part of a ‘Cat in the Hat’ outfit. Work together with your child to make the top hat at home using paint and cardboard. It’s an easy creative activity that everyone will enjoy.  

 Stripes – the possibilities are endless

 A striped top is a great starting point for an array of costumes, and a fantastic way to stimulate a child’s imagination, as so many of popular characters wear them.

 Examples include Wally of ‘Where’s Wally’, a school library staple – just add a bobble hat and a pair of round glasses. Burglar Bill is also a great way to capitalise on a striped top. To complete the look, use a tote bag as a money sack, create a mask out of old black cardboard and top it off with a flat cap.

 Don’t neglect your classics

 Most popular book characters have highly distinguishable features, making them a tried and tested formula for World Book Day. Some of them are perfect last-minute costume ideas, and don’t involve a lengthy and complicated crafting process – leaving more time for reading.

 Harry Potter is a great example: the British wizard is well-known worldwide for his round glasses and a unique lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead, which can easily be recreated with makeup. You can also recycle an old Halloween costume to create a wizard robe – just use a drumstick or twig as a magic wand, and voila!

Alternatively, using a pair of blue shorts, a red fleece and a large blue beanie, complete with a dotted scarf – these are all you need to dress your child as Noddy, a great choice for younger children.

Using household items

 Another option is the beloved Stick Man. Using two, flattened, brown cardboard boxes and felt tip pens, draw on tree rings to create the texture of a tree trunk. Wrap the largest cardboard box into a cylindrical shape, create two arm holes, and glue together. Use the remaining cardboard to create a hat, draw on a face and add leaves.

 Go matching!

 Matching costumes are bigger than ever, and there’s no reason why parents shouldn’t jump on the bandwagon to stimulate siblings’ imaginations, while saving time and reducing waste by reusing similar materials. Examples include Thing One and Thing Two from the ‘Cat in the Hat’ book, which only require red onesies and light blue beanies, or Tweedledum and Tweedledee from ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

Dorothy and the Tin Man from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ are also great World Book Day ideas. The Tin Man costume can easily be made at home using foil and cardboard. While a Dorothy outfit is just a blue dress paired with a white shirt, bright red shoes and a picnic basket.

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