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Horrible Histories - World Book Day Costume Ideas
Roald Dahl - World Book Day Costume Ideas
Willy Wonka - World Book Day Costume Ideas
Who's Your Favourite Character?

World Book Day on March 3rd is a fantastic day, created to promote books and reading. A great way to do this is with fancy dress; we can all dress as our favourite character from a book! The possibilities for this are almost endless; there are literally millions of books in the world, and millions more characters to dress as.

Who will you dress as? Harry Potter is always a favourite, but how about Snape or Hagrid, to be a little different? You could dress as a Mister Man or one of the Little Miss characters; the Gruffalo, the Cat in the Hat, Elmer the Elephant... if you're a little older, what about Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games or Jon Snow from Game of Thrones? You could be really clever, and go as Death, the narrator of The Book Thief or the tiger from Life of Pi.

This is such a fantastic day because the possibilities are endless. There are so many different characters in books, the only limit is your imagination. Also, don't forget to checkout our bookday costume ideas for mum and dad.

Latest Book Day Costumes 2020

1. Child Roald Dahl Willy Wonka

When we think of Roald Dahl, we mostly think of Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory, right? There have been two movies made of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, both equally iconic with wonderful costumes and colours. First there was Gene Wilder in the 1971 movie, with his big brown top hat, purple jacket and oversized brown bow tie. Or more recently, Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka was darker and more mysterious in 2005. He had those big dark glasses, a black top hat, and a maroon velvet jacket. Whichever one you decide to dress up as, the key items are the top hat and the cane... and the slightly sinister grin, of course!

£16.99    BUY NOW

2. Child Roald Dahl Fantastic Mr Fox

Roald Dahl created so many magnificent characters, but one of his best was Fantastic Mr Fox. Even before the 2009 animated movie adaptation, children all over the world already had Fantastic Mr Fox firmly implanted in their imaginations as the hero of all heroes, taking on the evil farmers and winning! This is a great costume for children who don't like to wear too much of a costume - as they can wear a simple fox mask and a tweed jacket. Or they can go all out and have their face painted as a fox, wear fox ears and so on. In fact, in Quentin Blake's original illustrations, Fantastic Mr Fox wore a blue jacket and yellow waistcoat so if you've no tweed lying about the house you could always go with that option!

£11.99    BUY NOW

3. Child Where's Wally

Generations of children have grown up searching for Wally in a sea of red-and-white striped red herrings. He's one of those characters that's great for dressing up as because the costume is incredibly simple yet instantly recognisable. And since the books have no actual words, he's popular with children of all ages - even those who can't yet read! English illustrator Martin Handford first created Wally in 1987 and it often took him up to eight weeks to create a single two-page tableau as seen in the famous books. His glasses, red-and-white striped hat and top, blue trousers and walking stick should make him easy to spot in everyday life - but not in the pages of a Where's Wally book, where he's surrounded by striped deckchairs, people in glasses but no stripes, people in stripes but no glasses and so on. Everyone loves Wally - even if they can't always find him!

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4. Child Deluxe Mad Hatter

The Mad Hatter is one of those characters that's really great fun to dress up as - because it involves getting into character and being... well, mad! Lewis Carroll's 1865 novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has had several adaptations, with the Hatter usually playing the male lead. Most famously there was the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland, and of course the recent movie starring Johnny Depp.The Johnny Depp version of the Hatter is great fun to dress as, with crazy orange hair, a top hat and outlandish makeup. For younger children the Disney version is a much more friendly, laid back character. He still wears the top hat with the 'In this style 10/6' label, but his clothing is brighter and he seems less menacing.

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5. Child Mister Rabbit

The white rabbit from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is of course always running around, convinced that he is late for something - and so any Mister Rabbit costume must include a pocket watch for him to check every few minutes! According to the book, the rabbit appears wearing a waistcoat and muttering, "oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" Although he isn't really seen very much in the book, he has become an immensely popular character - probably because it is he whom Alice follows down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland in the first place. In the Disney adaptation of Alice, the rabbit is often portrayed as the straight man to the antics of the rest of the characters, appearing to have the most logic about him. In Tim Burton's more recent adaptation, he has the name Nivens McTwisp and is secretly a member of a resistance organisation, sent by the Hatter to search for Alice - which makes him sound much more exciting and intriguing!

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1. Child Roald Dahl Matilda

Matilda is the ultimate heroine from a children's book. Living with an awful family, attending an awful school presided over by the terrifying Miss Trunchbull, she befriends her lovely teacher, Miss Honey and discovers she has the power of telekinesis. Matilda is incredibly intelligent, reading every book she can get her hands on - as illustrated on the original front cover by Quentin Blake. After saving her favourite teacher from a life of poverty inflicted by Miss Trunchbull, Matilda ends up living with Miss Honey after her parents leave to escape the police. The novel has been made into a 1996 movie as well as a musical. Matilda is loved by children all over the world - the character is just too much fun to dress up as! You'll need to practise your telekinesis skills though...

£14.99    BUY NOW

2. Child Where's Wally Wenda

Martin Handford's incredibly popular 1980s creation Wally needed a friend, and so Wenda came along, alongside her twin sister Wilma. The two characters featured in several Where's Wally books alongside several other characters such as Wally's dog Woof, and his evil nemesis, Odlaw. Wenda looks really similar to Wally, in that she has the big glasses, the stripy hat and the stripy top - but she also has stripy tights under her blue skirt. And where Wally carries a walking stick, Wenda carries a red and white umbrella. She's great fun to dress up as but probably easier to find in real life than in the pages of a Where's Wally book!

£16.99    BUY NOW

3. Child Evacuee Girl

This costume can be used for many different characters, as there have been so many fantastic books written about the Second World War. For example, there's Carrie's War, which shows what life was like for children being evacuated. Then there's Liesel from The Book Thief, a girl who is evacuated and steals books from her employer to read to her foster father. Audrey from the Machine Gunners, though not an evacuee, would be a great person to dress up as for World Book Day; she's such a great, brave character. Another character who's not strictly an evacuee - though she does have to move out of her home - is Lily from Michael Morpurgo's classic, Adolphus Tips. Lots of children will be learning about the Second World War at school, and this is a great opportunity to really get into character and explore how an evacuee child's life would have been different from our lives today.

£9.99    BUY NOW

4. Child Traditional Alice

Lewis Carroll wrote two books featuring Alice; the first was Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865; the second was Through the Looking-Glass in 1871. Through the Looking-Glass has actually been made into a new film by Tim Burton, due for release later this year. Lewis Carroll didn't really provide much detail regarding Alice's appearance or clothing in either of his books, but in most of the TV and film adaptations of the books, she is depicted with long blonde hair, wearing a blue dress. In fact, a blue dress is usually enough these days to let people know who you're supposed to be!The story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland came about after an afternoon Carroll spent rowing with his friend and three sisters, one of whom was named Alice. He told the stories to keep them entertained, but soon realised that the children were all very interested - and so he turned them into a book, soon followed by the second book.

£9.99    BUY NOW

5. Child Red Riding Hood

Everyone knows the story of Little Red Riding Hood; it's something we all learned as children. There are several different versions, though. In one version the Big Bad Wolf locks the grandmother in the cupboard; in another it swallows her whole. One version ends with the Wolf eating Little Red Riding Hood, but in another it falls asleep afterwards and the woodcutter comes and finds it, cutting it open to allow Red Riding Hood and her grandmother to escape. In a recent adaptation for the TV show Once Upon a Time, Red Riding Hood was the wolf, with her red cape preventing her from turning into a werewolf. Whichever story you prefer, Red Riding Hood is a great character to dress up as, and instantly recognisable once you don the tell-tale red hood!

£12.99    BUY NOW


You can join in too!
Book Day for Adults

World Book Day isn't just for children; grown ups can join in too - in fact, we think the grown ups really should join in! Why let the kids have all the fun?! There are plenty of books with adult characters, from the teachers in Harry Potter to characters from Alice in Wonderland to Willy Wonka! The only limit is your imagination, and how far you're prepared to go with your costume and face paints!

Lots of teachers will choose characters from Harry Potter to dress up as for World Book Day, but why not go for something a little different? After all, there are plenty of other teachers in literature from which to choose. How about the scary Demon Head Master, or perhaps Miss Honey from Roald Dahl's Matilda? In EB White's Stuart Little the mouse is briefly a supply teacher; that could be great fun to re-enact! Then there are the teachers from the Worst Witch series of books, Miss Temple from Jane Eyre, Nicholas Nickelby, or even Mrs Butler from Alan Ahlberg's wonderful poem!


We all know the Mary Poppins played by Julie Andrews in the famous Disney movie but long before she hit the big screen, Mary Poppins was the beloved lead in a series of books by P.L. Travers. The books were published between 1934 and 1988, featuring Poppins as a magical English nanny who is blown to the Banks house at 17 Cherry Tree Lane by the East Wind. She stays long enough to teach the children a valuable lesson or two, and then leaves again.

This is a great costume for a teacher, since Mary Poppins is beloved and respected by all children. She is the quintessential English nanny, slightly stern but caring and fun: “practically perfect in every way!”

Mary Poppins World Bookday Costume Ideas


In the books Alice is only seven years old - but that doesn’t mean that adults can’t dress up as her for World Book Day! After all, she’s a fantastic character and easily recognisable by people of all ages! Did you know that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is the number one book that people lie about having read? Everyone wants their friends to think they’ve read the book, because it’s such a fantastic, iconic story that people of all generations love - even if they’ve not actually read the book! That’s not bad for a book that was originally published in 1865, especially considering that in 1888 it failed to make a list of the most popular children’s stories! The book actually received fairly bad reviews when it was first released; it didn’t gain popularity until Alice Through the Looking-Glass was published in 1871 and people went back to read the first story again.


When you think of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the first character who pops into your head is not Charlie; it’s usually Willy Wonka, isn’t it! The eccentric, famously reclusive chocolate factory owner who opens up his factory for a chosen few children. The book is about Charlie… but really Willy Wonka is the star, isn’t he. He’s the one everyone wants to meet, the one with the secret recipes and potions. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published in 1971, and the sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator followed the next year. Roald Dahl had apparently planned to release a third book in the series but he never finished it - one of the great tragedies of modern literature. Adults and children alike love the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Willy Wonka is definitely the favourite character when it comes to fancy dress.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory World Book Day Dress Up Ideas
Wizard of OZ World Book Day Dress Up Ideas


You’re singing the song now, aren’t you… We’ve all seen the movie featuring Judy Garland, but the Wizard of Oz was a book first! The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900, written by L Frank Baum. The Library of Congress has declared the story “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale.”

There are some brilliant characters from the book that are great for fancy dress. Of course, there is Dorothy; but also the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch of the West (stock up on green face paint!), Glinda, Scarecrow and of course, Oz himself.


Children love to dress up as Where’s Wally… but why should they get all the fun! After all, Wally is an adult! Illustrator Martin Handford first created Wally back in 1986, when his art director at Walker Books asked him to create a character “with peculiar features” to act as the focal point of his drawings of crowds.

Searching for Wally soon became the favourite pastime across the Britain - and then across the globe, as Wally was exported - and often renamed. In Danish he is Holger; in Croation he is Jura; in Czech he is Valdik. Wally travels all over the globe - and through time - so he’s great for getting children interested in geography and history. Isn’t it amazing that a book with no words can be so incredibly popular and educational!

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