School children dressed up on World Book day in London. Photo: Veryan Dale / Alamy Stock Photo
World Book Day is one of the school year’s highlights for many children: an opportunity to show off some cultural kudos with their costumes and turn the school dining room into a junior comicon. It’s basically the Met Gala for kids.
It’s not always easy for everyone, though. For some parents, World Book Day’s annual cosplay extravaganza is a nightmare, especially if they can’t afford elaborate costumes, don’t have time to prepare one, or – the old classic – their child doesn’t bother to inform them about it until the night before. No-one wants to be Lisa Simpson dressed as Florida. Some schools have even banned dressing up for World Book Day to take the pressure off.
If you child needs a quick costume, here are some easy-to-put-together and simple suggestions to make sure your children aren’t screaming “I’M NOT A STATE, I’M A MONSTER”.
A Cat in the Hat
One of the easiest ones here. Make a bright red bow tie out of card. You can make the hat out of card, too, just create a stovepipe and colour in red rings, then attach it to a baseball cap. Black trousers and a white t-shirt over a black jumper and you’re done. Really it’s all in the face paint. Meow!
Tiffany Aching from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld
This one’s an absolute doddle. Tiffany wears a plain dress, carries a frying pan for whacking monsters and wears big boots. Paint some dolls blue with red hair to be the Nac Mac Feegle!
This one’s nice and easy and still very distinctive: blue jeans, white trainers and a blue t-shirt is all you really need. The yellow stripe can be created from paper or card. Then simply encourage your child to be awful all World Book Day!
The great thing about Dracula is that no-one at school will be looking for book accuracy in the way they might with a more recent, trendier book. As far as most kids are concerned he’s just a vampire! No need to model him on Gary Oldman in the 1990s movie, just recycle last year’s Halloween costume, dab on some fake blood and… “the children of the night, what beautiful music they make.”
Nursery Rhyme Characters
Nursery rhymes are a classic fall back. All you need is some imagination and a few props. Send them off with a pail, a tuffet, a spider, and, boom, Little Miss Muffett. Bandage their head, and they’re Jack/Jill, tattered old dress and a broom handle with a hook on the end made from a coat hanger, and they’re Little Bo Peep.
A slightly out-of-date character (though she did recently get a refresh when Lauren Child illustrated the stories), but one that’s very easy to do. All you need to be Pippi this World Book Day is a dress, hair long enough for pigtails and some stripy socks. Easy peasy.
The Addams family started as a comic strip, so this totally counts. Braided pigtails, a black dress (put a white collared school shirt underneath if you don’t have the right sort) and an expression of goth disdain and you’re away. You’ll get some bonus cool points thanks to the recent Netflix show.
Another comic book character that is, handily, all about the facepaint. Google a picture of the Joker (there are tons of versions) and pick one you’re happy with your kid looking like. If they have some purple pyjamas then all the better.
This one is really cheating but… there are lots of Doctor Who books, after all. If your child is a Doctor Who fan, then there’s plenty of scope. David Tennant’s tenth Doctor can be improvised with smart trousers and a shirt and tie (a jacket if you have one around) and trainers, with sticky-up hair. Matt Smith’s costume is really just a shirt, braces, a bow-tie and boots (although added points if you can find a fez!) and Jodie Whittaker’s is basically the same – just turn the trousers up a bit, find a blue t-shirt and create a rainbow on the front with some coloured paper.
Georgie from Stephen King’s It
This might not go over brilliantly with the teacher, but it’s funny for older children. If you have access to a yellow rain coat and a red balloon it’s almost too tempting. For extra thematic points, why not dress their brother up as a clown?
The Invisible Man
There’s two options here. Either you can bandage their face, put a pair of sunglasses on them and let them wear a hat and gloves, or you could just… keep them at home. When the teacher asks why they weren’t in school, you can can tell them they were there all along – it was just a very good costume.
Or no costume at all
At the end of the day, it is World Book Day, not World Costume Day. Just because your child’s school is doing a special thing doesn’t mean they have to. Let them go to school as they are and enjoy reading a book. Outside of school guidelines, no child should be pressured into dressing a certain way.
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