Blog post

7 Ways to celebrate World Book Day- Without Dressing Up

February 10, 2018Jenny

World Book Day is fast approaching. This annual event is run by UNESCO, to promote reading, publishing and copyright. Here in the UK we celebrate it on the first Thursday in March. World book day is a great opportunity for children to celebrate and share their favourite books. They can also collect their very own book, with tokens given out by schools. It is a great chance to share positive reading experiences. However, for some children, the tradition of dressing up as a character from a book can pose a problem. Some children do not enjoy dressing up at all. Some may have sensory issues which cause them to dislike fancy dress or costumes and for a whole variety of reasons, they may not be happy with it. Some parents and teachers, too, have grown to resent the way businesses have capitalised on the popularity of book-themed costumes, with less consideration for promoting reading than making a fast buck from cash-strapped and time-poor parents.

Big does not like fancy dress. But he loves reading. So, here are some ways we are planning on celebrating World Book Day- without dressing up:

  • Bake and decorate themed cookies or biscuits. Often books have an over-arching theme running throughout, finding a cookie cutter which matches and making up some coloured icing can be a lovely way to create something special together, whilst talking about the book.


  • Make a prop to carry or hold. Making a simple prop from a story, such as a wooden spoon with a character or image painted on it, is a great way to have something to take in to school, without the stress of a full outfit or costume. This year’s theme is spies, so one prop which immediately spring to mind is a magnifying glass. Obviously, this can be sourced or bought elsewhere or you can cut out some firm cardboard and make your own.


  • Draw a story map. Taking a favourite story and creating a map with it is a visual way of re-telling it. What is the setting? Which characters will you need to include? What happens at the beginning, middle and end of the story? Talking through the plot can be done even with young children before they can read by themselves. The story map can then be rolled up and taken as a prop, if they wanted to share it.


  • Small world play. Creating a small world scene can be a fun activity to create to open up or unpack a story. This doesn’t have to be done with branded toys, but generic dolls or toy animals can make great stand-ins for characters from the book.


  • Re-telling on audio or video. Technology has moved on so far now, that using a standard mobile phone can be a great way to record children telling a story in audio or video and then play it back to see or hear.


  • Make a board game. For slightly older children, making a board game is a cool activity. This can be a simple template, such as re-designing a snakes and ladders, to fit the basic plot of a story. (So, for Little Red Riding Hood, a ‘snake’ could be the wolf finding you, and a ladder could be ‘smell a lovely flower’ or ‘you see grandma’s house’, etc.)


  • Take the story outdoors. Is there a game, craft or activity which you could do outside to explore the book further? Is there a wood, beach, a city, train or farm in the story? Could you collect natural materials and create something from it? Taking a book outdoors and planning something to do with it in the fresh air can really awaken a child’s interest in the story and help to cement the learning opportunities the book might offer, too.


These are just some ideas, which can be adapted for children of differing ages and interests. The World Book Day website also has lots of free resources to use for more activities. If you are interested in how to bring books alive with young children, check out similar blog posts here, here and here, or follow on social media for regular updates of activities and inspiration!

7 ways to celebrate World Book Day, without dressing up! #worldbookday #literacy #reading



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Comments (19)

  • Lauren

    February 10, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Some good ideas there, especially with the book themed prop, you can play a character with less effort or expense then. I am not a parent myself, but have a nephew, and I think it makes much more sense to be creative, than invest in costumes all the time.

    1. Jenny

      February 10, 2018 at 7:56 pm

      Thanks for reading, Lauren. Yes, some kids do enjoy dressing up, but for those who don’t there are plenty of other ways to celebrate the day.

  • Sarah

    February 10, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    Great ideas I think past year 5 most kids are really not up for fancy dress anymore. #TheListLinky

    1. Jenny

      February 10, 2018 at 7:54 pm

      Yes, or even younger, they’re all different, arn’t they? Thanks for reading

  • Sophie

    February 10, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Lovely ideas! As a teacher, I’m always looking for new ideas so thank you, I don’t like dressing up either so I try to find ways of getting out of that part! #thesatsesh

    1. Jenny

      February 10, 2018 at 7:54 pm

      Haha- yes- the added pressure of dressing up as an adult… gah!

  • Malin – Sensational Learning with Penguin

    February 10, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Like all of these ideas too! ??x #thesatsesh

    1. Jenny

      February 10, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      Thank you!

  • Pen

    February 10, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    I definitely like the idea of taking the story outdoors. We have spent many a day walking through the woods hunting for the Gruffalo. Pen x #thesatsesh

    1. Jenny

      February 12, 2018 at 8:06 pm

      Yes! We love a good Gruffalo hunt, too!

  • fridgesays

    February 12, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    #thesatsesh we finished reading Georges marvellous medicine and made our own potion – not to be consumed! lol, lots of fun. I like the idea of bringing the book to life too. let the words dance off the page I say. Great ideas – especially the baking.

    1. Jenny

      February 15, 2018 at 5:34 pm

      Hey! Now that is an excellent idea! Science and Reading is a winning combo in my book!

  • Rumana Yasmin

    February 15, 2018 at 11:14 am

    Some great ideas here. I’ve worked with so many children who dislike dressing up. It’s nice to open up different options for them. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Jenny

      February 15, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      Thank you for reading! Always good to have a few options so they can pick and choose different activities!

  • Crummy Mummy

    February 15, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    I like your take on this as not all children like dressing up – great suggestions #thelistlinky

  • Claire | the ladybirds’ adventures

    February 16, 2018 at 7:01 am

    some lovely ideas. They are not doing fancy dress at my daughter’s school this year. instead they are asking grandparents to go in and share stories. love your ideas. We like story baskets to bring books to life. thanks for joining #bloggerpinparty

    1. Jenny

      February 16, 2018 at 3:36 pm

      That is a lovely idea of inviting grandparents in! I hope they have a great time.

  • Tammymum

    February 24, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Oh what great ideas. I love the idea of baking a cake or a bird game, my two would really enjoy that! thanks for joining us at #familyfun

    1. Jenny

      February 25, 2018 at 1:04 pm

      Thank you, yes, baking is a great one, they can take the treats in to school, too!

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