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World Book Day (on a budget!)

Updated: Jan 10

Edit: for those that have read this before, I have added a few more.

World Book Day is coming up soon, in March 2024. I love seeing the photos people share of their children on their way to school; I don’t love the stress that parents and carers have, worrying about sourcing and paying for a costume. It’s a wonderful thing to celebrate but, we’re all busy and, well, sometimes inspiration takes its time to strike.

So, I thought I would give you some ideas, many of which can be done on a budget, with things you already have at home.

I love the Little People Big Dreams series of books. They are a fantastic introduction to people that have achieved incredible things. And some of them have surprisingly easy outfits to replicate; here are a few ideas:

David Bowie - a suit and shirt with a face paint/make up lightning flash over the right eye and cheek. A shiny/sparkly shirt would also work;

Harriet Tubman - a dark dress and a turban;

Audrey Hepburn - a black dress and a string of pearls; you could string together some form of white beans to make a necklace if you don’t happen to have pearls (I certainly don’t!);

Jane Goodall - jeans/trousers and jumper or shirt, and take their favourite primate cuddly toy;

David Attenborough - a jumper and trousers with some binoculars; you could glue two toilet roll centres together to make the binoculars; you could also add a favourite animal or bird toy.

Roald Dahl characters are a great choice, too. For Charlie, a simple jumper or shirt (they can even be a bit tatty!), and have a pretend bar of chocolate, a drawn Wonka wrapper around a bit of cardboard. Matilda could be a simple dress, a ribbon in the hair, and carrying a favourite book. And, for a child that doesn’t like to dress up, you could have them carry a toy crocodile (or you could make one with a shoe box; a quick Google of crocodile shoe box will give you lots of suggestions) for The Enormous Crocodile.

Alice is simply a blue dress and an Alice band; you could include a toy cat to accompany them on a trip to Wonderland. Or dressing as Dinah, her cat, is another option; just add ears and whiskers. There are so many wonderful cats in literature that you could probably find one to match any colour outfit.

Julia Donaldson’s books are also a brilliant source of inspiration. For The Scarecrow’s Wedding, your child could wear either dungarees and a shirt, or a floral dress; if you don’t have straw from your pet rabbit’s hutch, you could use some shredded yellow paper. For The Smeds and the Smoos, your child could either wear all red or all blue and maybe even paint their face to match. For the fabulous witch in Room on the Broom, include a favourite cuddly toy to accompany your little witch on their broom (pretend or otherwise). For Zog, a large white shirt will be great for a doctor’s coat; if you have one, a toy dragon would be brilliant. Or have a look on Google for how to make a cardboard one.

Another favourite book is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Another simple outfit, too: trousers and jumpers or a dress, with a bear to hunt (and hide and run from!).

Then there’s the characters from the Harry Potter books: Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Draco. A grey and black school uniform, with a scar and glasses for Harry, a book for Hermione, a grubby nose for Ron, a sneer for Draco. And a stick makes a great wand.

Joseph Coelho's Luna wears a stripy blue top with a bright skirt or dress; you could stick blue stripes on a top, made from paper or material offcuts.

I love Ben Lerwill and Beatrice Blue's 'Harriet. The strongest girl in the world '. She wears different clothes through the book but she always has her hair in little buns at the top and, the most important thing, a badge that says: Just be you.

In 'A Pack of your own', there's dogs of all different breeds, colours and sizes, so you could just pick a dog to match your wardrobe. And every animal, probably, has appeared in a book at some time, so, if your child wants to go as a giraffe ('Giraffes Can't Dance'), a frog (obviously in fairy tales, but my favourites are either 'I am not a prince', or 'Frog in Love'), or a gecko, just Google the animal and say, "gecko in a children's book", which is what I will do, as one is not immediately coming to mind. And these can all be done with clothes of the same colour as the animal that you already have with some paper, pen, or material offcuts to make the spots, stripes, and any other distinguishing feature.

In 'I am every good thing', the lead wears his blue jeans, a white t-shirt, and a rucksack. That outfit could also work for 'Me, My Dad, and the End of the Rainbow ', and, add a rainbow to the t-shirt and you have 'Glitter Boy'.

Dressing as a pirate would cover many characters, from 'The Pirate Mums' to 'Treasure Island '. Trousers, a stripy top, and a bandana tied around the head. You could add some costume jewellery to show off your treasure.

And, well, I can't do a blog about books without mentioning my own, can I?! Your child could dress as Emily, in her blue t-shirt and leggings, pink tutu, and a cut out pink heart on her t-shirt. They could carry a toy cat. Or, again, dress up as a cat. Although, as the books are all about imagination, they could go as anything they like, ready for their own adventures. And, for the child that doesn't like dressing up, there is one sentence from Who Am I?, "You are you, and I am me, and we're wonderful just as we are"; support and encourage your child to believe how wonderful they are, just as they are.

Happy Being Who on Whoever You Want To Be on World Book Day!

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