Book Week costumes: 25 dress up ideas


When it comes to Book Week there are two types of mums:

1. Last minute mums who fashion a night-before costume out of socks and old shirts held together with a dressing gown belt.

2. Crafty mums who really get their dress up on and go all out to win the parade.

Whichever sort of mum you are, there’s no judgement here. I have been both types in my time and just quietly I have always been disappointed with the lack of a ‘prize’ in the years when I really go all out.

Last minute knock up ideas for the mums and kids who forgot

This is me most years. My kids are HOPELESS at reminding me about what’s coming up. Just the other day they started talking excitedly about going on camp ‘next week’. “What camp?” said I. Whereupon the note that had been in the bottom of a school bag was finally produced just in the nick of time. Anyhoo, enough about my household quagmire. If nothing else, I am a master of last minute costume ideas, here’s nine of the best, from me to you.

1. Cat in the Hat cheat’s hat

When is a hat, not a hat? When it’s a Cat in the Hat cheat’s hat. Just add a big red scarf tied in a bow at the neck and your kid is parade ready.

2. Craft a foil crown

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A foil crown is a cover-all for so many stories and books. If you need a specific reference there’s a great list of princess stories here:

3. Captain Underpants


This is the ultimate in lazy mum awesomeness … if  you can convince your child to parade around school with a giant pair of underpants on, that is.  Even Toby, (above) usually so willing, was dubious at first. Shameless exhibitionists need only apply.

4. Get out that fairy princess costume and put it to literary use

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Fairies appear in a multitude of children’s books – from the classics, Tinker Bell in Peter Pan, to the contemporary, Wendy Harmer’s, Pearlie in the Park, series.  So FINALLY there’s a legitimate excuse for your little girl to rock up to school in her fairy best.

5. Make a fox mask

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And go as Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. Just add a natty tweed suit and cravat if you’re feeling elaborate.

6. Knock up an easy Wild Thing mask

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Paper plate? Check! Coloured markers? Check! Black wool to use as hair? Maybe not, just improvise with whatever you can find. Simple but impressive.

7. Make like a Very Hungry Caterpillar

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Another paper plate specialty.  Paint it red. Add some green circles for eyes, pop on a green onesie or whatever green clothes you can find and you’re there.

8. Cobble together a pirate outfit


Pirates are like fairies … in the literary sense: they pop up everywhere; Peter Pan, The Night Pirates, Penny the Pirate … you won’t have to look hard to find a reference.

9. Knock up an owl costume


From Martin Waddell’s, Owl Babies to Owl from Winnie The Pooh there’s lots of ways to shoehorn an owl into the Book Week parade.

“Get your dress up on and go all out to win that parade” costume ideas

Some years, you take a good hard look at yourself and wonder why you don’t get into this whole Book Week thing more. That is the year you go a bit ‘Helicopter Mum’ on everyone’s arse, get a bit too involved and try to ‘win’ the parade … vicariously via your child. It only happens once or twice. But if you’re in that mood, here are 10 of my winning-est Book Week ideas for you.

10. Cruella de Ville


Sure, the cigarette holder is a bit dodgy. But winners don’t shy away from controversy.

11. The ultimate witch get-up

Room on the broom witch dress up

“The witch had a cat and a very tall hat and long ginger hair that she wore in a plait …”

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson is one of my kids’ favourite books, and to be honest anything that rhymes has me at hello.  This dress up is inspired by the witch in that book, but just like pirates and fairies, you won’t be short on references for witches if you need one.

12. Madeline


“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived 12 little girls in two straight lines …” So begins Ludwig Bemelman’s classic children’s book, Madeline.

13. Harry Potter


Needs no introduction. Needs no further explanation and the costume is easier than you think.

14. Take that Harry Potter and make it a Hermione Granger with a few simple accessories

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15. Mr McGee and the Blackberry Jam or any number of Mr McGee classics


So many stories to choose from with this guy: the biting flea, the time he went to sea and of course, the blackberry jam classic. And always with his natty pink pants and bowler hat. Remember, accessories maketh the man.

16. Olivia the red and white striped pig

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She’s fiesty and a little bit naughty. Which is why we love her.

17. Thing 1 and Thing 2

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If you have twins, you will be familiar with the concept of two small creatures who move at the speed of light, creating mischief and mayhem wherever they go. Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat flew kites inside the house and made a big mess: sounds like every other day at my house.

18. Where’s Wally?

Yes, this book made us all go cross-eyed. But dressing your kid as Wally and then putting him in the midst of a parade? It’s like you’ve recreated a whole page of the actual book! Genius Book Week work.

20. Willy Wonka


He’s a dandy that Willy Wonka.  And who wouldn’t want to be the guy who owns a candy factory?

5 ways with a cape for Book Week

Everyone has some sort of cape lying around.  You can make that cape work in five different literary ways.

21. Will Treaty, The Ranger’s Apprentice

Will Treaty

I have a particular penchant for this book because MY DAD WROTE IT! You heard me.  My dad wrote The Ranger’s Apprentice series. (FYI: he also wrote The Brotherband series which is equally as excellent and will be included in next year’s Book Week round up.) But enough about me and my dad.

22. Legolas, Lord Of The Rings


Just take off the Oakleaf necklace, pop on some kooky armour made out of coffee cups, add a sword: hello, Legolas!

 23. Puss in Boots

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I know for a fact, that every woman has a pair of snazzy knee-high boots in her wardrobe. Just lend them out for the day and add a jaunty hat with feather.

24. Prince Charming

Prince charming

Remember that foil crown you crafted back at number two on this list?  Add a cape, belt, poncey shirt, snazzy boots and sword: hello, Prince Charming!

25. Little Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood: the ultimate cautionary tale of ‘Mother knows best.’ (Stay on the path, she said. Go straight there and don’t muck around picking flowers, she said … ) In any case, red coats with hoods are so hot right now.