19 books to inspire World Book Day costumes

Books to inspire World Book Day ideas

by Lily Anderson |
Updated on

World Book Day is a celebration of our favourite childhood novels where children (and grown-ups) can dress up as their favourite story-book characters. With thousands of characters you could bring to life, the possibilities are endless and it can be very hard to find a costume that both you and your little one can agree on (and that is actually achievable!).

We can't wait to inspire children with classic tales, magical characters and shocking plot twists in some of our favourite books. If you're looking for a new read to inspire a World Book Day costume for your toddler, or you're wanting to create a last minute homemade World Book Day costume then you're in the right place.

The best books for World Book Day at a glance:

Best books for young children: Julia Donaldson Books Collection Set
Best for funny books: David Walliams Collection Books Set
Best for a book gift set: Beatrix Potter The World of Peter Rabbit
Best for popular characters: A. A. Milne Winnie-the-Pooh Complete Collection

From traditional tales like Alice in Wonderland to more modern stories like the Julia Donaldson book series, there are so many characters your little one could become.

Luckily, we've compiled a list of the best World Book Day books and series that have plenty of character ideas in to get you started. Here are 19 book ideas for World Book Day 2024.

The best books to inspire World Book Day costumes

Best books for young children

Julia Donaldson Books

Rrp: $40.00

Price: $27.44

From Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo to Stick Man and Zog, Julia Donaldson and her illustrator Axel Scheffler have now written ten very successful books together that are loved by kids of all ages all around the world. Whether your little one wants to be a dragon, a witch, an alien, a worm a mouse - the seemingly unlimited quirky characters mean the possibilities are endless!

A reviewer said: "We saw 'Room on the Broom' on BBC iPlayer and my 3 year old loved it. When I found out that it is also available as a book, I bought this set. It was a great investment. My daughter could read all easy words at first and I would read the remaining words, but because there is so much repetition in the story, she started to read more and more of the parts herself until she could read the whole book alone. It proved to be a massive milestone in her reading because it improved her reading speed tremendously (since she knows most of the sections by heart). However, ever since she learned to read this one book (Room on the Broom), her general reading speed has also significantly improved. So for me it has been a great investment."

Best for a book set

Roald Dahl Books

Rrp: $599.00

Price: $39.58

With books including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and The BFG, fun characters are not in short supply when it comes to Roald Dahl stories. And whether you have the time to go to town on a bright and bold Oompa Loompa costume or an easy blue dress and ribbon for a Matilda costume, there's something for every child and a costume to suit everyone, no matter how short you are of time.

A reviewer put: "We got these for our daughter as she was getting bored of the school books. She has really enjoyed reading them. There are some words in the books we would use as a family but it made our daughter laugh and we explained the meaning and asked her not to repeat."

Best for funny books

David Walliams Books
Price: $111.00

The comedian has now released a number of very successful children's books, with some even being adapted for film. David really lets his imagination run wild with these brilliant books, providing readers with a huge range of fantastic characters to be inspired by for World Book Day. Kids could go down the comedy route as the Gangsta Granny or even Ratburger.

One parent reviewer said: "I bought these books as a Christmas present for my 10 year old who loves David Walliams books. These were great value and included all her favourite stories."

Best for popular children's books

Harry Potter Books

Rrp: $259.95

Price: $64.98

With seven books in the collection and eight films to take inspiration from, choosing a character from J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series is a great option for both girls and boys. There are plenty of Harry Potter World Book Day wizard and witch ideas including Harry, Ron, Hagrid, Dumbledore or Hermione.

A reviewer said: "What a great price for all of these books! We're massive HP fans in our house and my eldest has now got into the books and wanted his own box set! We purchased these for Christmas and they came very quickly and were a great price. Great gift for any young HP fan starting to get into the series!"

Best for a classic book

Alice in Wonderland

Rrp: $14.99

Price: $12.97

With Tweedledum and Tweedledee, The Cheshire Cat, The White Rabbit, The Mad Hatter, The Queen of Hearts and of course, Alice - there are loads of iconic characters from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland for your little one to dress up as. You don't even have to go all out with an expensive costume if you can find a blue dress or you're talented with the face paint, you can replicate one of these magical looks.

One person reviewed this and said: " I bought as a present for my son for Christmas. The design of the cover is really beautiful and the text size nice and clear. It's a nice addition to my sons growing library."

Best kids' book collection

Mr Men and Little Miss Books

Rrp: $169.99

Price: $156.16

Perhaps the easiest costume option is one of the Mr Men or Little Misses from Roger Hargreaves's collection of 85 characters. There are plenty to choose from, including Little Miss Sunshine, Mr Bump, Mr Messy and Little Miss Chatterbox, all of which are easily achievable and it's a great idea to make the costume using cardboard. Simply make the character on a large circle of cardboard, big enough to cover your child's body. Use more cardboard or ribbon to connect the top for it to sit on your child's shoulders.

A reviewer said: "I used to buy these books at airports to bring home and read to our daughters. Then I read them to our grandkids. The books were getting very worn. Finding these complete sets is incredible, I am now reading to our great-grandkids! Thank you Mr. Men and Little Miss! Good wholesome stories!"

Best for a book collection

The Worst Witch
Price: $31.00

Is your daughter inspired by the adventures of Mildred Hubble and the rest of the witches from Jill Murphy's The Worst Witch? Dressing up as one of the witches from the series is super simple. Plus, you can reuse the costume at Halloween!

A reviewer wrote: "I bought these for my seven year old's birthday and I’m so glad I did, she loves them. They have become the bedtime books of choice and I’m wondering what on earth we move onto once we have read them all that will keep my daughter enthralled as these do."

Best for a board book

Written by Eric Carle, this book is perfect for very little ones, and they're sure to look adorable in their little caterpillar costume. As such an iconic children's book, their friends will know straight away who they're dressed up as!

One reviewer put: "I bought this board book for my baby girl, and now that she's almost 1 1/2 years old she grabs it at story time to have me read it to her, it's one of her favourites! Absolutely great book!"

Best for a budget

The Tiger Who Came to Tea
Price: $11.84

Another iconic character for small children is the tiger from the popular Judith Kerr book, The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Mini-book fans could also dress as the tiger's small friend, Sophie!

A reviewer said: "A beautifully illustrated large book for children - especially younger ones 3-6 - as they can read the words as parents read the story. I also bought the tiger as illustrated on the cover of the book and it’s identical to the cover picture. My granddaughter absolutely loves it as she cuddles it when story is being read and takes the tiger to bed with her."

Best for a book gift set

Beatrix Potter Books
Price: $70.49

With 23 tales from her World of Peter Rabbit books, there are plenty of classic animal characters to give you some costume inspiration. Other than the ever-so-popular Peter Rabbit, children can dress up as Jemima Puddle-Duck, Tom Kitten, Squirrel Nutkin, Mr Todd plus many more.

One happy reviewer said: "This is beautifully presented, so many classic Beatrix potter books in a handy case. The stories are beautifully written and illustrated, and they are the perfect length story for parents to read to children and set their imaginations off."

Best for rhyming books

Dr. Seuss Books

Rrp: $49.95

Price: $26.47
Alternative retailers
Target$26.47View offer
Macy's$49.95View offer

For the more inventive and adventurous parent, the weird and wonderful characters from the books of Dr. Seuss will definitely have your kids standing out. Apart from the obvious Cat in the Hat, your little one could also dress up as Horton Hears a Who or a fish from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish or Blue Fish.

A reviewer said: "I bought this collection for my niece's 2nd birthday because I absolutely loved reading Dr Seuss books with my 13 year old son when he was younger. I wanted a starter set for her and as this contains 4 absolute classics - The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and Fox in Socks - it seemed ideal."

Best for popular characters

A. A. Milne Books

Rrp: $300.00

Price: $53.64

Another ideal set of books to inspire the very little ones is the Winnie the Pooh collection. They can become a little Winnie the Pooh or Piglet for the day in an adorable costume that everyone will know and love.

A reviewer said: "I'm absolutely delighted with this gift for our new granddaughter's first Christmas. Winnie the Pooh has a been feature in our house from when my daughter was growing up so he able to continue this tradition in this wonderful presentation box is wonderful. You will not be disappointed if you chose this."

Best illustrated book

The Wizard of Oz

Rrp: $19.95

Price: $12.99
Alternative retailers
Target$12.99View offer

Although you might only remember the iconic 1939 film starring Judy Garland, The Wizard of Oz was in fact inspired by L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz meaning all the wonderful characters can be used as World Book Day characters. Our favourites are the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Glinda the Good Witch and of course, Dorothy.

A reviewer said: "A beautifully illustrated book. The pictures have lovely colours and it’s a pleasure to sit and read it with a child and to linger over the pictures; I would highly recommend it."

Another reviewer used it and said: "What a great book; my daughter enjoyed reading it! It has beautiful illustrations and it's well written. My daughter is 9 but I’m sure that kids of all ages will love this."

Best for a classic children's book

The Secret Garden

Rrp: $16.99

Price: $5.99

Whether you're reading this classic to your younger kids or letting your older children dream up their own secret garden, follow Mary Lennox as she uncovers the truth about her past and learns how to tend to a garden, thanks to a magical robin and lots of friends along the way. Dressing your little one up as Mary, Dixon Sowerby or Ben Weatherstaff is an easy costume for World Book Day.

One reviewer said: "A little girl who feels alone and is sent somewhere, where she has to establish new connections. A mysterious setting, characters who must overcome obstacles and the power of friendship. I didn’t want to put any spoilers but there is a reason this is is an enduring delight for new (and repeat) readers."

Best for a sad book

Charlotteu0026#039;s Web
Price: $9.71

From Charlotte to Wilbur and even Templeton, there are lots of fun ways you can help your little boy or girl bring this incredible novel to life. Help your children's imaginations run wild while teaching them life lessons about friendship and bravery.

One reviewer wrote: "The friendship between Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider is something rare and special. This is a story which will probably make you laugh and cry for a variety of reasons; but most of all, it will make you remember that life is not a bed of roses and that we succeed or fail in life as a result of how much we are willing to give to and receive from our friends."

Best for a magical book

Peter Pan
Price: $2.49

If you're thinking about taking inspiration from Neverland this World Book Day, then you have to treat your children to the original bedtime story. It's simply magical.

One reviewer said: "A good easy book to read. Peter Pan is certainly a favourite now. Ended up feeling a bit sorry for Captain Hook and for Wendy at the end but would certainly recommend it to anyone, young and old. As with most books that films are based on, you see things that aren't in the films and bits they miss altogether! A very good book and beautiful story."

Best books for toddlers

Paddington Little Library
Price: $8.88

What a collection of fun books! Join Paddington on an adventure this World Book Day, thanks to Paddington – The Arrival, Paddington at Home, Paddington at the Seaside, Paddington Goes Shopping and of course, your little one's blue coat, red hat and wellies.

Best for dog books

The Hundred and One Dalmatians
Price: $13.38

Before the blockbuster film, The Hundred and One Dalmatians was a book adored by children all over the world. Whether or not you dress your kids up in dots or as the villain, Cruella de Vil - this novel will have your little ones enthralled during any storytime.

A reviewer wrote: "I was more than pleased to find this contained not just the 101 Dalmatians but also the sequel The Starlight Barking, as when I was buying this I searched for the sequel and it appeared to be out of print. Nice surprise when I received this (for my granddaughter) and it was both books."

Best animal book

Wind in The Willows
Price: $9.75

Written over a hundred years ago, the Wind in the Willows remains a popular children's book to this day. Whether you're dressing your toddler up as Mr Toad, Mr Badger or even the Mole, they'll love hearing or reading about the adventures while wearing their new costumes.

One reviewer said: "The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham is written for children but loved by adults as well. The book is a classic and filled with old British humour it is a story based on friendship and adventure. The book includes many different interests including comedy and action and becomes quite thrilling In the battle of Toad Hall. The book shows life changing decisions and friendships."

When is World Book Day?

This year, World Book Day lands on Thursday 7th March 2024, as it's always on the first Thursday of March.

World Book Day ideas

Coming up with different World Book Day ideas for school or nursery every single year can be tricky, but we're here to help! Here are some ways to find the perfect costume for your little one:

Use their favourite book - The safest bet is to go with one of their favourite characters, although if your tot is always changing their mind, it might be best to try and select something generic (like a princess dress or a doctor's outfit) that could be considered as a character from several books.

Scan their bookshelves - Look at your child's bookcase for inspiration. You might discover a title that completely slipped your mind or an exciting idea from a much-loved story.

Lily Anderson has contributed to various Bauer Media brands such as Mother&Baby Yours, What’s The Best,Closer, heat and Spirit and Destiny as a Deputy Commercial Content Editor since 2019 and currently works at CPSL Mind as a Deputy Campaigns and Communications Manager.

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