Since it was first celebrated over 20 years ago, World Book Day has grown to become one of the most popular events in the education calendar. A firm favourite with schools and pupils across the country, the event celebrates all things literary. As it is so popular, World Book Day is now an integral part of the yearly timetable in most UK schools. Although different schools may celebrate in different ways, most hold some sort of event to mark the day. For parents, this often means getting kids dressed up in literary-themed costumes and joining in with World Book Day events organised by their children’s schools. Parents who are particularly keen on books and literacy may even want to celebrate the day themselves. In fact, World Book Day parties are becoming increasingly popular with parents and kids everywhere. Offering the perfect excuse to indulge your love of books and promote your favourite characters and authors, World Book Day parties are a great way to celebrate your love of literature. Whether you’re celebrating World Book Day at school, at home or with friends, putting a little planning into the festivities can help you to get more out of the event and help you have even more fun this World Book Day.

What is world book Day?

World Book Day was first celebrated back in 1995. Organised by UNESCO in order to promote reading and publishing, the event is now a staple of the world literary calendar. In most of the world, the day is celebrated on 23rd April. However, the UK moved the event to the first Thursday in March in order to avoid clashes with St George’s Day and the Easter school holidays. Over the years, the event has grown hugely in popularity and now almost every school in the country runs events to celebrate books and promote reading.

How is World book day celebrated?

To mark the day, every child in full-time education in the UK is given a book voucher. Although the voucher isn’t worth a huge amount of money, it still offers kids an incentive to get out and buy some new reading material. A lot of schools also plan World Book Day celebrations of their own, with many asking kids to come in dressed as their favourite literary character. This gives children a great opportunity to celebrate their favourite books and authors and to get their friends excited about reading them too. Some schools and clubs also organise World Book Day fairs, parties and readings. Get in touch with your child’s school or the extra-curricular clubs they attend to find out what’s on.

Hosting a world book day party

If you love all things literary, there are some great ways to get involved in World Book Day. If your child’s school isn’t hosting a party to mark the event – or if you just can’t get enough of book-themed celebrations – a World Book Day party is a great way to show your support for bibliophiles everywhere. One of the best things about hosting a World Book Day party is that you can take your inspiration from anywhere in the literary world. If you love comic books, host a comic party; if you’re a fan of sci-fi, get your guests to dress up as aliens, robots or other weird and wonderful creatures; lovers of murder mysteries could plan an especially gruesome World Book Day themed event. Essentially, if it’s been in a book, you can have it at your party. As well as picking a literary theme for your event, you also need to plan book-themed decorations, party bags and snacks. In fact, everything you have at your party should offer at least a passing nod to the wonderful written word.


As we’ve already seen, selecting a specific theme for a World Book Day party can be a lot of fun. Although you can of course select a more generic literary theme and let all your guests dress as their favourite character, choosing a niche genre can help to make your party stand out from the crowd. When selecting a theme, think about the ages of the people attending your celebration. If you’re planning a party for younger kids, you’ll want to keep the theme fairly general in order to make costumes easy to find and keep the party inclusive. However, if your guests are a little older, you can be a bit more discerning. Choose a popular series of books like Harry Potter, Tracey Beaker, Northern Lights or Lord of the Rings to give kids plenty of characters to choose from and make costumes interesting. Remember that your theme will need to be reflected in your decorations, your menu and your entertainment, so make sure you select something that’s versatile and that you’re interested in. Once you’ve decided on a theme, make sure you let your guests know about it as early as possible. The longer they have to prepare, the more impressive their costumes are likely to be.


Every successful party needs a great menu. Kids can quickly become low on energy if there are no snacks to be had. If possible, link your menu with your food theme. So if you’ve chosen Roald Dahl, you could take inspiration from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you’ve opted for Harry Potter, you could serve your very own homemade Butterbeer – ginger beer would probably do the job – and if you’ve gone for a Lord of the Rings theme, you could serve up some Lembas Bread (think bread sticks, wafers or other similarly crunchy snacks). Although you may not be able to link your menu entirely to your theme, bearing the books in mind as you put your snacks together will help you to make your party even more memorable.


Just like a birthday party, a World Book Day party revolves around the entertainment. You need to ensure that your guests are kept happy from the moment they arrive to the moment they go home if your party is going to be a success. No matter what the age of your guests, a short book reading should go down well. Make sure you select a reading that’s suitable for the kids attending and try to practice the extract first. If you’re not confident enough to do the reading yourself, ask a friend or hire a professional entertainer to do it for you. You can take inspiration for other games and activities from the world of books. Adapt the game of quidditch for your group of muggles, plan a Treasure Island themed treasure hunt or go on an adventure like the Lost Boys in Peter Pan. Again, if you’re not confident about leading these games and activities, think about hiring a professional to help you keep the kids entertained on the day. They’ll be able to organise a variety of fun games and events and get your guests in the party mood in no time.

Party bag

At the end of the event, you could think about giving everyone a World Book Day themed party bag to take away with them. If you have the time and the budget, visit a few local charity shops and pick up cheap copies of some classic kids’ favourites to give away. You could also give your guests book tokens or theme the bags to reflect your chosen literary niche.

World Book Day fancy dress ideas

Whether you’re hosting a World Book Day party yourself, or going to an event at a local school, club or friend’s house, a good costume is an absolute must. Luckily, the world of books is incredibly rich and varied so finding a character and a costume you like should be easy. To help get you started, we’re taking a look at some of the easiest, and most popular, World Book Day costumes around.

Harry Potter

Harry Potter is a great option both for kids who love the boy wizard and parents looking for an easy costume idea. All you really need for a Hogwarts themed outfit is a white shirt, black trousers and a black cape. Accessorise your look with a pair of black glasses, a wand and a scarlet and gold striped scarf and you’re ready to go. If you’re dressing a group of kids, you could recreate Harry, Hermione and Ron. Alternatively, opt for characters from some of the other Hogwarts houses or have some fun with the theme and dress up as a baddie.

Where’s Wally

Where’s Wally is another very easy costume option for World Book Day. All you really need is a red and white stripy jumper, a stripy hat and some glasses. If you want to complete the look, wear some bright blue trousers and take a walking cane along for the party. A good thing about a Where’s Wally costume is that you can reuse all the parts of the costume in your everyday wardrobe once World Book Day is over. This makes it a very affordable option for book lovers of all ages.

Dennis the Menace

Like Where’s Wally, Dennis the Menace is a great choice for an easy, affordable World Book Day costume. Simply buy a red and black striped top, some black shorts and some red socks and your costume us complete. If your child has short black or brunette hair, just add a bit of hairspray or some gel and you should be able to create Dennis’ patent messy style. If they don’t have dark hair, buy a cheap black wig from your local fancy dress shop or head online to find the perfect hairpiece.

David Walliams

After enjoying a successful career in comedy, David Walliams has now become one of the most popular kids’ authors of all time. His books are incredibly popular across the country with many winning prizes for their originality and humour. If your kids are fans of David Walliams, why not use one of his books as inspiration for their costume? Dress your child as a Gangsta Granny, complete with a wig, burglar mask and granny outfit, opt for some old, ragged clothes to create a great Mr Stink costume or adapt your Where’s Wally costume from last year to make your child look like Ratburger. As David Walliams’s books offer a wide choice of characters, there is a huge range of costumes for you to choose from. If your child can’t decide what their favourite character is, encourage them to re-read a few novels for inspiration.

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl has been one of Britain’s most popular kids’ authors for generations. Over the years, he created some of the most famous characters of all time and his books have been made into films, TV shows and even musicals. Take inspiration from the world of Roald Dahl by dressing your child like Willy Wonka, the BFG, Mr Fox, a blueberry or an Oompa Loompa. All of these costumes can be made at home or you can hire or buy them from a local fancy dress shop. If you’re selecting outfits for more than one child, why not dress them all in a Roald Dahl theme and keep their costumes unified. The great thing about Roald Dahl costumes is that they’re bright and colourful. This will help your child to stand out from the crowd and ensure they look fantastic next World Book Day.


Although a lot of costumes for World Book Day are based on characters from novels, there are no rules about where you have to take your sartorial inspiration from. If your kids prefer comics to novels, they may have very different ideas about the type of costume they want to wear for World Book Day. For example, a lot of comic-loving kids will like the idea of attending a World Book Day event dressed as their favourite superhero. Pretty much all superheroes originate in comic books and graphic novels, so this is a great costume choice if your kids are inspired by caped crusaders. Get your child to select their favourite superhero and then set about recreating the most iconic parts of their costume. Most superhero outfits need a mask, an emblem and a cape. Having a few extra muscles built into the fabric can also help to make the look more impressive. Again, if you’re dressing more than one child, think about selecting superhero costumes that work well together. For example, your kids could go to World Book Day dressed as The Fantastic Four, the Justice League or Batman and Robin.

The animal world

The animal world is always a good place to start when coming up with fancy dress ideas and World Book Day costumes are no different. Read The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling to get inspired and then set about making your very own Baloo, Shere Khan or King Louie costume for your child to wear. If your kids are too young for The Jungle Book, or if you just want to opt for a costume that’s a little different, you could take inspiration from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Beatrix Potter, The Gruffalo or The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. All of these books feature fantastic animal characters and should give you plenty of ideas for an original and eye-catching World Book Day costume.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland provides a wealth of characters and costume options for World Book Day. One of the most evocative kids’ books ever written, the story features a whole cast of weird and wonderful creatures. If your child likes to play a starring role, why not dress them up as Alice herself? All you need is a blue dress, a white apron and a black bow for their hair. If you don’t have all the pieces for the costume, you can buy an Alice outfit from your local fancy dress shop or head online to find the right look. The Mad Hatter is also a great choice for a World Book Day costume. To create the look, you’ll need a top hat, a brown coat, an oversized bow tie and a waistcoat. You could even dress your child in an orange wig and give them a walking cane to complete the look. Other possible costume options from the world of Alice in Wonderland include the Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit.

With World Book Day fast approaching, now’s the perfect time to start planning your costume, your party and your calendar of literary events. Find out more about hosting unforgettable parties for kids of all ages by exploring our site or give us a call and speak to an expert member of our team.

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