5 Easy DIY Book Week costumes

Book Week. It’s supposed to be all about children celebrating books and encouraging reading. Occasionally the meaning gets lost amongst scraps of fabric and boxes of dress-ups tipped all over the floor, as frazzled parents try to come up with a costume for their over-excited child.

Personally, I love Book Week. I remember vividly dressing up as a child — I still have some of those costumes today. My favourite is the time I dressed up as Old Mother Hubbard from the nursery rhyme of the same name. I know some people dread when Book Week approaches, which is why I’ve come up with these easy costumes you can make at home. Hopefully, I can encourage you to get into the spirit of things.

I read a lot of children’s stories and see this as an opportunity to visualise potential Book Week costume ideas. Anything that presents as too intricate or time consuming is immediately put into the ‘Not This Year’ pile. I mean, I’m like a lot of parents — time poor. I also let my oldest child choose their Book Week character, with a small amount of guidance.

Of course, you can buy ready made costumes. There’s definitely no harm (or judgement) here. Or you can DIY with things you have at home and do a bit of running around for the bits and pieces that will pull it all together.

Each Book Week has a theme. This year’s is ‘Dreaming with eyes open…’ and it’s held from Sunday, August 20 through to Friday, August 26.

Easy DIY Book Week costume ideas

Frida Kahlo from Me, Frida or Little People, Big Dreams: Frida Kahlo

Grab a funky floral headpiece and some chunky jewellery. Anything in the wardrobe that screams colour and pattern will work for her attire. Create Frida’s trademark monobrow using a brow pencil.

Mr Wolf or Mr Shark from Bad Guys

You’ll need a large piece of white cardboard to draw the head of Mr Wolf or Mr Shark. The eyes are made out of white Styrofoam balls, which are available at craft stores (Riot Art and Spotlight spring to mind). Use a black permanent marker to draw facial features and the eyes’ pupils. Secure the eyes to the cardboard with glue. Kids will need a black suit and tie, and a white t-shirt to complete the look.

A crayon from The Day the Crayons Quit

Dress your child in their favourite colour. Use some black tape around their ankles and wrists. Create and print a ‘Crayola’ sign, which you secure to their tummy area with either pins or Velcro. Then, using coloured hairspray (and your best hairstyling skills) send your child’s hair skyward.

Hairy Maclary from Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

This costume is pretty straightforward. You’ll need a black headband to which you’ll attach your ears, a blue bowtie for a collar with a red piece of paper for your ‘Hairy Maclary’ name tag. Then, dress your child in a black pair of pants and a black long-sleeved shirt. Finish the costume by painting a nose and other doggy features on your child’s face.

Of course, you could also go as that kleptomaniac cat Slinky Malinki from Lynley Dodd’s book of the same name. Using a similar black outfit, cover it in the types of trinkets Slinky would make off with. Instead of dog ears, attach cat ears to your black headband.


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Mandrake from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Naturally there are going to be plenty of wizards thanks to a resurgence in Harry Potter fandom. But if you’re looking for something truly inspirational, and pretty simple to create at home, have a crack at this Mandrake costume. Use fake leaves and a green beanie up top, brown clothing that covers the arms and legs and a brown pot with the base cut out of it. Voila!

Don’t forget…

A couple of year’s ago I came across this nifty idea from Megan Daley of Children’s Books Daily. She says the must-have prop for every Book Week dress-up is a book lanyard or a book necklace.


“[It] saves you carrying the book all day, easily identifies the costume and character and, as an added bonus, seeing all those book covers around the school yard is perfect advertising for what you should read next,” Daley writes. “Simple and effective.”

Give yourself plenty of time to organise your Book Week costumes and a good time will be had by all!

What Book Week costumes have you or your children worn? What book characters are inspiring you this year?

Written by Calista Bruschi

When she’s not moulding Play-Doh or dancing in the living room with her children, Calista Bruschi is an editor and writer. She has oodles of experience working on newspapers, magazines and websites. Calista likes to organise and be organised. She loves being a mum, Italian food, wine, sport and stationery. She hasn't sleep a full night in more than five years and is powered by coffee.

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