World Book Day is one of those occasions that takes me by surprise every year. Despite my best intentions, I always scramble to come up with last-minute DIY costume ideas.
Don't get me wrong, I love reading and fancy dress. As a self-confessed book worm I am 100% behind any event that aims to promote the joy of reading to children. In the old days I would spend ages making fancy dress costumes for parties. But now I'm a parent I'm just not that organised.
Every year I intend to plan ahead more for World Book Day. But if you're reading this article last-minute, then you can whip up a pretty decent Mr Tickle in an hour or two. All you need is some orange felt, a needle and thread plus an orange t-shirt to hand.
This year, World Book day will fall on 3 March 2022. In a bid to get ahead, I'm sharing my favourite ideas with you so we can all get crafty with a literary twist this year. You don't have to be a pro with a sewing machine to make the costumes in this round-up. I've included lots ideas for all abilities. Enjoy!
You might also like our guide to DIY Halloween costumes to make at home. For more family craft projects, head over to our favourite craft ideas for kids and craft ideas for toddlers.
What is the theme of World Book Day 2022?
This year's theme will be "You are a reader!" – encouraging children everywhere to discover a love of reading.
What can I dress up as for World Book Day?
Anything you like! Traditionally the day calls on children to dress up in fancy dress with the theme of a favourite book, but this is a huge remit and you don't have to be really specific. If you like to read comics, why not opt for a homemade super hero outfit? While some fancy dress themes like pirates or witches or fairies crop up in lots of different fairy tales. If you're looking for inspiration based on popular children's' books, read on for our DIY World Book Day costume ideas...
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Easy Homemade World Book Day Costumes to try
1. Where's Wally
If you're reading this from overseas, you may know him as Where's Waldo, but here it the UK he's Wally and he's a great idea for World Book Day costume. We love this Waldo Hat Pattern to crochet over at Repeat Crafter Me. Combine it with a stripy ts-hirt (or you can get a white one and add red felt stripes), and some toy glasses. You can also make the glasses from black card if you want to go 100% handmade.
In a rush?
Don't know how to crochet? You can also pick up a load of fun Where's Wally (or Waldo!) costumes online.
2. Fantastic Mr Fox
One of our all time favourite childrens books, Roald Dahl's fantastic Mr Fox makes a quick and easy World Book Day Costume. Head to this tutorial by Handmade Charlotte for how to make an outfit from basic supplies, with bonus fox mask template to download. We've also got a free woodland animal mask template here on Gathered that you could use and adapt to turn it into a fox.
Short of time? You could whip up a quick Fantastic Mr Fox with a matching pair of leggings and a plain T-shirt, then sew a feather duster brush to the back of the leggings! Add a paper mask with the templates we've linked to above.
Or if you want to cheat and buy a costume, we are obsessed with how cute this kids fox costume on Etsy is (from £11, Robins, Bobbins Gifts)
3. The BFG
This idea for a handmade BFG outfit comes from the official World Book Day website. Download their PDF step by step guide and turn paper plates into the BFG's ears. They've got a load of other fun costume ideas too, from the Wimpy Kid to Supertato.
BFG costume © World Book Day
In a rush? Try this Smiffy's Officially Lisensed BFG Fancy Dress costume (Amazon, £16.35)
4. DIY Dog Man costume
One close to my heart as my kids can't put their Dog Man comics down, this is a very easy YouTube tutorial for making your own Dog Man costume. You'll need a baseball cap and plain blue t-shirt as the base, plus some felt and fake fur and a fabric pen or Sharpie-style marker to decorate the t-shirt.
In a rush? Try this handmade child's Dog man costume kit on Ebay (£25.99)
5. Super hero costume
Can't think of one favourite book or struggling for which idea to go for? Super hero outfits can represent so many amazing kids books, from Supertato to comic books. Homemade Heather has a great article on how to make no-sew super hero costumes using a hot glue gun and felt, and there are lots of free mask templates available online.
6. Harry Potter
This is a big favourite in my house as both me and my daughter love the Harry Potter books. There are lots of tutorials online for how to make Harry Potter outfits, but here are a few of our favourites:
- How to crochet a Harry Potter Gryffindor scarf from The Spruce Crafts
- Sew your own Hogwarts cape with Simplicity pattern 8723 (Etsy, £7.39)
- Download a template to make your own Harry Potter glasses out of card (Yvonne Byatts Family Fun)
Short of time? There are lots of affordable ready-made Harry Potter fancy dress outfits out there to get the look in a hurry...
7. The Wizard of Oz
If you're after an iconic handmade costume for World Book Day, you can't go wrong with the Wizard of Oz. As there are lots of easy options within the book, from the Wicked Witch of the West to Dorothy herself, this is a great theme if you've got a family of outfits to make and want them to coordinate as a family. Why not make a set of the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow?
We love this DIY Tin Man Costume idea from This Happy Life.
If you've got your heart set on Dorothy, if you've got a sewing machine and some gingham fabric, try making your own with McCall's Misses' pattern M4948 – it also includes instructions to make Alice in Wonderland and Fairy Godmother outfits. Available from: Love Crafts (£9.50) Amazon (£7.49)
We've also found this ready-made costume for ages 5-6 on Argos (£4.50)
8. Peter Rabbit Costume
Whether your kids love the classic Beatrix Potter books or have come to Peter later via the films and TV show, Peter is a great choice for world book day. He's also pretty easy to make at home. Here's a few methods you can try:
- This DIY Peter Rabbit costume from Room for Bloom is a no sew option made mostly from felt and wool
- Try this simple-sew guide to how to make a Peter Rabbit outfit from Hobbycraft (pictured below)
- We've got a free knitting pattern here on Gathered for How to make bunny ears
9. Willy Wonka
We've featured a shop-brought costume here (Smiffys Officially Licensed Roald Dahl Willy Wonka Costume, £15.05 on Amazon), but you can create own DIY Willy Wonka outfit too with a few basic craft supplies. Hobbycraft have got a really nice tutorial for how to make a no-sew Willy Wonka outfit using felt and cardboard.
10. Elmer the Elephant
There are some pretty cool pre-made Elmer outfits out there (we love this Elmer cape on Amazon) but this is also an easy idea to replicate if you have a bit of fabric spare and some felt. Use a sewing machine or hot glue gun to make a simple patchwork cape out of squares of different colours, or grab some felt squares and use them to upcycle a plain T-shirt or coat. If you stitch the felt squares on with hand stitches then you can also unpick them after. After Dark Sewing has a great blog post that's full of practical tips about how to make a homemade Elmer outfit, including these cute ears.
11. Beast Quest costume
For anyone who has experienced the best selling fantasy book series and their hero Tom, this is a fun and easy DIY costume to try. We like this tutorial for how to make your own from Kids, Gifts and Toys (below) – complete with MDF sword and shield, but you could also junk model these out of recycled cardboard boxes. For the tunic, you can use a sheet, cut to size, folded in two with a hole cut for the head and rope at the waist.
12. The Worst Witch
If you're after a super simple idea, you can't go wrong with a DIY witch's hat and some black clothes – check out this YouTube video below to find out how to make one out of black card.
It's pretty easy to add a DIY cape if you can get hold of some lightweight black fabric. Mildred Hubble loves her cats so for a finishing touch, add a cuddly cat toy (or you can make your own with our cat sewing pattern).
13. Mog or Tabby McTat
We're not sure if this is universal, but cats (and dressing up as cats, and pretending we're cats) are big news for my 6-year-old and her friends. Make a cat outfit and it will come in handy for World Book Day and later in the year for Halloween. Kirsty Hartley has designed a DIY for how to make one here on Gathered.
How to make a cat costume
14. Gangsta Granny
We've featured a shop-brought version here – this Gangsta Granny costume is £12.99 on Amazon, but you can make our own with a few basic supplies. Book Aid has a lovely tutorial for how to make your own granny wig out of wool and cardboard.
15 and 16. Alice in Wonderland and the Queen of Hearts
Sew your own DIY World Book Day Costumes to transport your children down the rabbit hole with these Easy DIY Alice in Wonderland tutorials from The Chirping Moms.
17 Mr Bump
This is a Homemade World Book Day idea I've tried myself when short of time so I can personally vouch for how easy it is to make. For a basic Mr Bump, you just need a pair of jeans and a blue t-shirt, plus some bandages and safety pins. Simply wrap your child in the bandages and safety pin them in place. If you want to take your costume to the next costume you can try the sandwich board approach – head over to tonyastaab.com for a step-by-step tutorial.
18. The Cat in the Hat
Scott Bedford over at Make Fun Creating has got a next-level papercraft tutorial for how to make a Cat in the Hat hat – complete with hidden pop-up cats!
19. The Gruffalo
At one stage we read The Gruffalo so many times in our house that we knew it off by heart. It also makes an instantly easy to recognise World Book Day costume that's surprisingly easy to DIY at home. Younger kids will love to dress up as The Gruffalo, with purply prickles all over his back. Oh Creative Day have a really easy-to-make Gruffalo outfit tutorial, using everyday supplies like a paper plate and some coloured felt.
20. Aliens Love Underpants
All you need is some green card and a few basic craft supplies to make this last-minute World Book Day outfit. Find out how to make it over at Bookaid.org.
21. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
If you've got a bit more time on your hands and you want an outfit that really stands out, how about your very own Paper Mache Diary of a Wimpy Kid outfit? Emma and 3 has a really fun DIY on her blog. It might take a while to make but the basic supplies are inexpensive and everyone in your child's class will love it.