Ideas for celebrating World Book Day

Lots of ideas for simple ways to celebrate World Book Day with children, including dressing up as a favourite character, book play, storytelling props and book-related crafts.

Ideas for celebrating World Book Day

Reading to my baby has been a very natural thing for me. What I have discovered since becoming a mum, though, is how much more you can do with books for children, using them as a springboard for all sorts of activities. Of course, this works both ways; for children (or parents) not so in love with reading, playing with books is a great way to explore the wonderful world of reading.

With World Book Day taking place annually in March, this is the perfect opportunity to discover new ways to make reading a fun and regular part of family life. Here are a few ideas for celebrating the day (but, of course, they can be for any day of the year!).

1. Have fun with some book play

Creating a fun activity to do alongside a book is great for extending the value of an old favourite or introducing a non-reader to the joy of books. There are so many different ways to approach this, your imagination is the only limit! If you need some inspiration, though, look no further than Pinterest and the blogosphere for some brilliant ideas. My Book Play board on Pinterest has lots of suggestions; a few for some toddler classics include:

World Book Day ideas

2. Retell a well-known story using props

Bring a book or story alive by using different props. One Perfect Day has some lovely ideas including Hey Diddle Diddle stick puppets and this adorable Incy Wincy Spider storytelling box. And I love this simple cardboard tube prop to go with Five Green and Speckled Frogs, from Librarian vs Storytime.

World Book Day ideas

3. Dress up as a favourite character

Most children love to dress up; it is certainly a popular activity in our house at the moment! Create a story-book themed costume together, read the book and then see where the pretend play takes you… Simple ideas for book character costumes include:

  • Where the Wild Things Are masks made out of paper bags from the wonderful Red Ted Art
  • Cardboard butterfly wings from Fun at Home With the Kids, which would go really well with The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Butterfly, Butterfly.
  • This no sew skirt from The Imagination Tree, which lends itself to lots of different costume ideas, including the witch from Room on the Broom (add a cardboard tube broom and a witch’s hat), Angelina Ballerina (with some cardboard mouse ears) or any fairy books.
  • An easy spider headband from Fantastic Fun and Learning that would be perfect for Incy Wincey Spider or The Very Busy Spider.

World Book Day ideas

4. Get arty

It’s easy to bring books into your art activities:

5. Have an audiobook-fest

Audiobooks are a good way to introduce a new book or to bring a familiar story to life. We own the brilliant Gruffalo and Stories CD as well as What the Ladybird Heard, which feature the voices of well-known UK actors including Imelda Staunton and David Tennant. We both enjoy listening to the stories, often putting them on while we have lunch. (They are also very useful for long car journeys!) As we own many of the books featured, we sometimes have an audiobook-fest, piling up some cushions next to the CD player along with a stack of books to follow along as we listen. Try out some audiobooks for free from your local library.

6. Create a book nook

Set up somewhere inviting for your little one to read and play. This doesn’t need to be elaborate – a mat and some cushions, along with a few books in a basket makes a sweet and cosy corner, and a cardboard box draped with fabric makes a great book cave. But why not get into the spirit of World Book Day with a book fort like this one from The Pleasantest Thing or by giving your book nook a theme, like our under the sea, jungle/zoo or cosy autumn book dens.

World Book Day ideas

7. Cook up a book-inspired feast

Use the theme or characters in a book as the basis for some baking or to put together a storybook picnic. Again, your imagination is the only limit but you could try:

  • A Very Hungry Caterpillar themed picnic with all the foods the caterpillar eats through the week. Or I love this cute caterpillar sandwich from Frost Me with a tomato head and round sandwiches to make the body.
  • Gruffalo chocolate cupcakes from Sun Hat and Wellie Boots
  • Monster sandwiches for any monster-themed book (we like Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster and the touch and feel book Little Monster)

World Book Day ideas

8. Set up a simple play scene

Match your toddler’s favourite toys with a book for a simple invitation to play and read. ToddlerGirl had lots of fun recently playing with her toy tractor and a few farm animals, which I laid out alongside a touch and feel tractor book from the library. Or set up a simple zoo scene to go with Dear Zoo; a train track to go with a Thomas the Tank Engine book; various cars, boats, planes and trains alongside Choo Choo Clickety Clack; a bucketful of dinosaurs and building blocks to go with Harry and His Bucketful of Dinosaurs… You get the idea!

9. Dance along to some book-inspired music

Julia Donaldson has written songs to go with many of her most loved books, including The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, What the Ladybird Heard and A Squash and a Squeeze. We have them on our Gruffalo audiobook CD but a few are also available on the Gruffalo website. They are all great fun to dance around the living room too, either before or after we have read the books. We also love many of the Barefoot Books stories and music. A favourite activity is dancing along with the Creepy Crawly Calypso band and ToddlerGirl adores the Animal Boogie. You can find a whole playlist of songs to go with their picture book titles on the Barefoot Books YouTube channel.

10. Make your own book

Put together a homemade book as a fun craft activity with your little one. I made a very simple one for ToddlerGirl when she was a lot smaller using an empty photo album and pictures of different animals, and it is still a favourite of hers today. Or cut pieces of card or paper to use as the basis for your book and print pictures to put inside. They could be of your family, photographs from a holiday or recent activity, nature images… anything that your toddler will enjoy. Or decorate the cover and leave the inner pages blank for a colouring book. For a quick and easy way to bind the pages, follow this example at Mama Smiles and use pipecleaners!

11. Host a picture book party

Combine several – or all – of the ideas above and hold a book party. Invite some friends and their little ones round, or just keep it low key with you and your child(ren). Celebrate a much-loved picture book with food, games, crafts and of course, some reading! For inspiration, check out Rainy Day Mum’s Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters party.

12. Visit a library or bookshop

Take a trip to your local library and check out as many books as you can carry! I’m discovering new shelves in our children’s library all the time: we started with the baby board books, moved onto to the toddler picture book bins and I am now realising that there are all sorts of interesting non-fiction titles to explore, including books about feelings and emotions, or the natural world around us. There are often other activities going on in the library as well; we have enjoyed colouring in, sticking and, most recently, making shadow puppets. Last year, we took a special World Book Day trip to the library to find books about reading.

Phew, there you have it! So many ways to enjoy books this World Book Day – and every day. What are you doing to celebrate?

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3 Comments on “Ideas for celebrating World Book Day”

  1. Jody says:

    So many fun ideas to explore! Thank you for compiling this list and thank you for including our scavenger hunt!

  2. […] Where The Wild Things Are to Butterfly Wings your little one can rock a homemade look courtesy of Cuddles and Muddles. Or why not get an outfit done under 10 minutes? I love the Mr Bump idea from The […]


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