'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 15 August 2014

Librarian's Shelf: Getting into character for Children’s Book Week

Every August, public and school libraries around the country celebrate Children’s Book Week. Amongst the activities that take place, particularly in many schools, are Book Week parades. The idea is usually to dress up as a favourite book character, although oddly enough some of the characters I’ve seen are not often from books, which is a shame.

Given that Book Week is only a few days away, I thought I’d share some ideas for costumes linked to books, as inspiration for those of you who need to come up with a costume for your children - they're some simple ideas you can build on. Creative masks can be a great start, or if there’s an animal character your children are keen on, an easy option is to find one of those crazy, furry animal hats that seem to be everywhere these days and team it with suitable clothing. Whatever you choose, remember to find a copy of the book to go with the character so it can be read and enjoyed as well.

  • Dr Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat - A striped cardboard hat and a bright red tie would work well, or if you have the necessary materials and skills you could try your hand at making a hat out of material.
  • Angelina Ballerina - If there’s a ballet-mad child in the family and they have a tutu, then all you need to do is add a pair of cardboard ears to a headband and you have the dancing mouse. As an alternative to the ears you could make a mouse mask.
  • Tashi - Dress in a bright red shirt and black trousers. Style your child’s hair so it stands tall and pointed, and try adding a little curl on the end (or find a cheap black wig and use that). Big clip on earrings and red boots will add to the character, but are probably not essential.
  • Elmer the patchwork elephant - Sew some brightly coloured squares together to create a simple patchwork pullover costume, and add cardboard elephant ears.
  • The Hobbit, Ranger’s Apprentice, or Robin Hood - Make a cloak, or find a suitably coloured hoodie to wear. Pair it with relevant props like a fake bow and arrow, sword, or “the one ring to rule them all”. A costume like this could also work for books like How to Tame Your Dragon.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Make a special, super-sized golden ticket, buy a block of chocolate, and wear some comfortable, everyday clothes (e.g. jeans and t-shirt) and you have your own Charlie Bucket ready to explore Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
  • Charlotte’s Web - Buy a cheap t-shirt and some fabric markers. Use the markers to draw a spider’s web filling the front of the t-shirt and add one of Charlotte’s spidery comments, like “Some Pig” or “Terrific”, or you could use the book title itself.
  • Specky Macgee - Dress in your favourite AFL supporters’ gear and grab a football.

Happy reading and enjoy Book Week!

Sarah Steed is our Consultant Librarian and reviewer. A former Children's and Young Adult Librarian, she has more than 18 years' experience working in public libraries. Sarah comes from a family of readers and has shelves full to bursting with books.