Finding the perfect book character costumes for teachers can be a challenge. You want something fun and recognizable. You want your costume to motivate your students to enjoy reading. Plus, you’re a teacher and so you’re definitely on a budget. Many of the items included were chosen for their flexibility to become part of your regular wardrobe even after Halloween or your Book Character Day.
Many of the books chosen are Caldacott or Newberry award winners. Others are favorites from my own childhood. Some books included simply come highly recommended. Have a book you’d love to see included? Let me know! I’d love to add it.
The huge list below gives tons of literature inspired costumes for teachers. We have costumes appropriate for elementary, middle school, and high school teachers. You’ll find we have costumes for both our male and female teachers. We even have a few that are for teachers who wear hijabs though many of the costumes could be adapted for modesty. Each picture that links to Amazon which means we might make a small commission, but it doesn’t cost you extra. We wanted to save you time by linking to things you’ll need to create the perfect costume. We know you spend your time grading and lesson planning leaving little time for preparing the fun stuff like costumes.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Become The Very Hungry Caterpillar from Eric Carle’s classic book. The pictures below link to everything you need to complete your metamorphosis. Don’t miss the felt pieces. You can stitch them on lightly to the skirt and then remove them to include in a dramatic play center at a felt board in your class. A costume you can reuse for academics? Yes please! You’ll need a shirt, skirt, socks, shoes, felt pieces, and antennae.
Arthur was one of my favorite characters growing up. Recently you might have seen his memes popping up due to his uncanny resemblance to John Legend. Going as Arthur is simple. You need a yellow sweater, a crisp white button down, and some fake glasses. You can easily make his ears by cutting out a pattern out of foam and wrapping them around a headband.
Pinkalicious is super popular with younger elementary students. You’ll especially delight your girly girls when you show up on book character day as Pinkalicious. You’ll need some pink fairy wings, a pink shirt, a pink tutu skirt, and pink ballet flats. Don’t forget your wand to complete the look.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Who doesn’t love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom? Why be a character when you can be a whole book? This costume is simple and includes pants you can wear on a regular basis, not just as part of a costume. The felt letters can be tacked onto the shirt and pants, then removed to become a part of your felt board literacy center.
The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly
Your students will crack up when they see you wearing an old lady wig old fashioned clothes. Read the book to them in a voice like you’re old to add to the fun.
Looking for a beautiful costume? You’ll shine as the rainbow fish. You’ll need a blue base for your outfit. I suggest two skirts for fins with scale leggings underneath. Then you can add iridescent scale sequins to the costume for extra shimmery scales. I’ve included a YouTube video I found with a Rainbow Fish inspired makeup look if you want to go the extra nautical mile.
You’ll look perfect as Olivia. This simple costume will add a comfy red dress to your wardrobe that you would wear any time. You’ll want the ribbon to make a cute bow necklace.
Viola Swamp from Miss Nelson is Missing
If you like your costumes on the scary side, go as Viola Swamp from Miss Nelson is Missing. Make sure to put a lot of blush on your cheeks and add some black lipstick to get the look just right.
Camila Cream from A Bad Case of Stripes
Feeling crummy? Go as Camila from A Bad Case of Stripes. The striped shirt and leggings you’ll need for the costume are adorable. Before you leave for class, throw the thermometer from your medicine cabinet in your bag so you can complete the look.
Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus
When I was a student I wanted a teacher just like Ms. Frizzle to take me on exciting science journeys. Now that I teach, I want to be Ms. Frizzle. You too can live this dream with a Ms. Frizzle costume and a red wig. If you’re an I Love Lucy fan, the wig can do double duty for Lucy costumes too.
Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games
Middle schoolers and up will enjoy your Katniss Everdeen costume. Her clothes have a rugged edge to them that will work nicely for weekend wear. I’m not exactly Katniss in the picture of me with the bow and arrow, but I sure felt like her in my costume so I had to include it.
Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice
If you’re a English lit teacher, you’ll be excited for this one. You’re kids will do a double take walking through your classroom doors to make sure they didn’t step into a time warp. If you really want to impress, brush up on your English accent and use it for the day.
Fern Arable of Charlotte’s Web
This costume is super simple and you just might have all the clothes you need already in your closet. Red shirt and jeans? You’re good to go. Make sure to pull your hair back in a pony tail. Then add a stuffed pig to complete the look. The kids will all think you’re, “Some Teacher.”
Pete the Cat
You’ll be the coolest, bluest cat in school when you dress up as Pete the Cat. If you have a blue shirt, blue jeans, and white shoes, you’re already set. Just add some blue cat ears.
The Cat In the Hat
The Cat in the Hat is not about to take any of that crap from Pete. Doesn’t that Pete kid know who’s boss? Here’s what Pete will say:
“The sun did not shine,
I was too mad to stay.
Dr. Suess runs the house,
On this Halloween Day.”
Your little ones might be a fan of the newest Paddington Bear movies. If so, this costume is sure to be a hit. Pair it with one of his stories. If you live in a rainy climate, this costume will do double duty by keeping you nice and dry during frequent downpours.
Waldo from Where’s Waldo?
Feel like hiding all day? They’ll never, ever find you if you’re dressed like Waldo. All you need is the skirt, glasses, and hat combo. Combine it with jeans if you’re allowed, but slacks will be fine too if you need to stay in dress code for Halloween.
Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library
Nothing fancy needed for this costume. Just a yellow T-shirt, jeans, and a dragon. Just make sure costume day does’t fall on library day!
Willy Wonka from The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka
If your kids are Roald Dahl fans, they’ll appreciate you showing up as Willy Wonka. And let’s face it, it’s easier to move around in than trying to make it through the day in a giant peach costume.
Max from Where the Wild Things Are
I’m not sure there is a more iconic book children’s book than Where the Wild Things Are. You can be Max with this onsie and crown set.
Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz
The next few entries are all Wizard of Oz characters. They would work nicely for a team-wide costume theme. Whether you choose to be Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion, or even the Wicked Witch, we’ve got ideas for you.
The Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz
And here’s me as the Scarecrow at work for Halloween a year or two ago.
The Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz
The Lion from The Wizard of Oz
The Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz
Fox in Socks
If you’re looking for an excuse to wear sweats for school, here you go. You can go as Fox in Socks. Pair the sweats with blue socks and shoes and blue fingerless gloves. Top your look with fox ears.
Maddy from Bayou Magic
If your dress code allows bare arms, this dress is absolutely perfect to pull off Maddy’s look from Bayou Magic. If your school doesn’t allow bare arms, add a shirt with longer sleeves underneath and layer it. You could layer with white, red, or a neutral.
Always trying to figure out no name papers? Being a teacher often requires being a detective too, so run with it and go as Nancy Drew for your book character costume. All you need is a green retro 50’s style dress and a magnifying class.
Grace from Grace for President
We still haven’t had our first female president so inspire your girls with Grace for President. Because of your encouraging teaching, your boys and girls alike will know they can do anything they put their mind to, even be president one day. If you’re a male teacher, you could change it up and be Kid President instead.
Lulu from Lulu and the Hamster in the Night
Ever have that nightmare where you accidentally wear your pajamas to work? Now you can live it and turn it into a good dream. This costume is especially interactive because the bunny slippers light up and the hamster can repeat back phrases. Fun!
Ida Mae Jones from Fly Girl
This historical novel is about Ida, a girl who wants to be a pilot, but during the time she lived that was hard to achieve as a black woman. When WWII starts, She joins the WASPs when WWII begins as a way to fly and help her country. Your students will be inspired by the story, and your costume will look super cool with your aviator glasses and helmet.
Junie B Jones
Junie B Jones is mighty popular in some elementary school classrooms. Your costume will still likely fit your dress code as the look is made up of a turtleneck and yellow slacks plus some glasses. If you’re having to be subtle with your Halloween costume, here’s your perfect sneaky costume. It is definitely work appropriate.
Grace from Amazing Grace
I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find a vertical striped collared shirt. So I included this horizontal striped one for the costume. Pair it with some cute blue ribbon at the top of two pigtail braids, and you’ll be perfect Amazing Grace.
Madeline was one of my favorite characters growing up. I think it played a part in my love for all things France. I had a high bar set, but I’m delighted with the items I found to create a Madeline costume. The wide brimmed yellow straw hat, the cobalt blue dress, and the Peter Pan collared dicky are darling and just the right colors. The red scarf, socks, and black Mary Jane’s tie the look together perfectly. If you do this look (or any of them) please share the results with me!
Marcus from Chess Rumble
To be Marcus from Chess Rumble, you very easily may already have everything you need. You need a coat with a furry lining and a black T-shirt. Both are wardrobe staples, so even if you don’t have already, you can justify the cost as something you need anyway and no just for a one day costume.
Sounder Main Character
The main character in the book Sounder is never named, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go as him for character day at school. Sounder is his dog. You need overalls and plain white polo. Don’t forget a stuffed dog to complete the look. It’s a sad book, so be prepared for that if you read it with your class.
The costume for Bird couldn’t be easier. You only need a blue hoodie, a pencil, and a thoughtful look.
Pedro Martinez from Growing Up Pedro
Your baseball fans will enjoy this costume. He was an amazing pitcher for the Boston Red Sox before being traded. All I could find available is the jersey after his trade.
Omakayas from The Birchback House
The Birchback House is set in the same era as Little House on the Prairie but from the perspective of a Native American girl named Omakayas.. Approach this costume (and all costumes from cultures not your own) with caution. For instance, don’t pair this with any kind of Native American headdress, as that would be considered offensive. I do think you’d be safe replicating the character’s look with a yellow tank top and a blue shawl. It’s important to note here were aren’t doing a costume representing and stereotyping an entire ethnicity, we are are doing a costume based on a character who has that ethnicity. This is true for all the costumes in the article.
Amira from The Red Pencil
If you are unfamiliar with the book, The Red Pencil is about a girl growing in Sudan. After Amira’s life is uprooted to a refugee camp, her life is changed by a red pencil. I thought this book would lend itself nicely for teachers who wear a hijab and wanted to replicate a character who already wore a hijab for Book Character Day. If you don’t already wear a hijab, you might be wondering if this would be appropriate for you too. From what I understand, wearing a hijab while not a practicing Muslim is not usually considered offensive. For instance, in many countries, women of all belief systems are required to wear them. And a headscarf has traditionally been a part of many cultures, even prior to the advent of the Muslim religion. However, you may still be met with disapproval, You should give serious thought to if this makes sense for your classroom and school. If you can’t pull it off without being sure others will understand that you are being respectful and helping your kids understand a character, you should steer clear. I’ve included a video that discusses it that says it comes down to intention. Because the intention here is positive, if you can make your intention clear, you should be OK.
Amina from Amina’s Voice
Amina’s look is simple and makes for a very work appropriate costume. Her pink sweater paired with a blue tank works not just for a Halloween or a book character day costume, but it could become a part of your regular work clothes rotation.
So I’m a big renaissance festival fan, and I also have a huge fondness for fantasy based fiction like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Your kids will get a kick out of the fuzzy feet flippers when you wear them as part of your hobbit costume for your Book Character Day costume. And yes, you get bonus points if you’re short!
I remember reading The Giver in 6th grade. I very much enjoyed it. Being The Giver for your book based Halloween costume is easy. You need an old man wig with long hair and a color blocked shirt. Get a shirt with shades of black, gray, and one color to represent the use of black and white versus color in the book.
Stanley Yelnats from Holes
Break the curse of a bad character day costume with this outfit. Stanley is sent off and has to wear these orange uniforns like a prison jumpsuit. The costume is simple, bright, recognizable, and affordable. Bring an onion with you for bonus points. The curse is broken!
The Harry Potter series is full of amazing costume opportunities. I’m only including two, Harry Potter’s outfit can work for almost any student if you switch out the tie and and ditch the classes.
Professor Trelawney from Harry Potter
One of my favorite costumes I’ve ever worn myself was going as Professor Trelawney. I wore it to work (though it wasn’t a teaching position). It went over very well and it was so much fun. I have a lot of what I call “hippy dippy trippy” clothes in my closet because of the renaissance festival so I had everything I needed. Before you purchase, raid your closet first for this costume as you might already have something that will work. You need earth tones and funky patterns. What really made the look was back combing my hair to make it look erratic. I
The Percy Jackson series is popular with kids, and the costume is pretty easy. You need a rugged coat and a t shirt. Check your closet and you might already have just the thing.
This Neil Gaiman book is a great introduction into one of the best authors of our time. You can dress up as Coraline to get kids excited about the character. There is also a movie, but some kids do find it creepy. Still, the creepy factor makes it a great choice for a Halloween costume that’s book based and school appropriate.
Nat Ng from Cat Girls Day Off
Your cat lovers will love this book because the main character’s super power is being able to talk to cats. If you’re secretly a crazy cat lady in your spare time, you can let the cat out of the bag by becoming Nat for the day. You don’t have to tell me twice to have an excuse to wear purple hair extensions and carry around a cat all day.
Chiune Sugihara from Passage to Freedom
If you haven’t heard of this book, you really should check it out. It’s based on a true story of a Japanese diplomat in Finland who helped thousands of Jewish people escape the Holocaust. It’s a serious topic, but a story that needs to be shared. All you need for the costume is an old fashioned suit.
Julie from Julie of the Wolves
Need a new winter coat? You could always be Julie of the Wolves and kill two birds with one stone. You’ll get a warm winter coat while bringing your students attention to a Newberry Medal winning novel.
Esperanza from Esperanza Rising
This dress looks so incredibly comfortable. It’s long, flowy, and yellow just like the cover. Add a fake rose or two, or get the real thing from the grocery store as a little extra treat. To complete the look, convince a student to follow you around with a portable fan for the perfect wind swept look. (I kid, I kid.)
Malala from I am Malala
Malala is an important person to bring up in your classroom for her bravery and commitment to education. Your students may reconsider how committed they are to their education when they realize Malala was willing to die to continue her education.
Josh Bell from The Crossover
Your baskball fans will be delighted to see their teacher as a basketball player. You won’t even have to change clothes to go to the gym after work. But if you’re a gym teacher, will anybody realize you’re in costume?
Andrea Faraday from Perfect Liars
All you really need to recreate the look of this book cover is a pair of cool round sunglasses and a textured black coat. Both you can add as a staple in your regular wardrobe. That’s a win.
Mark Watney from The Martian
Most of the costumes on the list have a homemade quality to them. But I don’t think teachers have the extra time on hand to make a homemade space suit.
Sloane from The Program
With these yellow scrubs, you’ll be one and done. The scrub set has everything you need for the costume. Plus scrubs are comfortable. You’re students just might pay extra attention when you’re a walking yellow highlighter at the front of the class for the day.while
Victor Cruz from Victor Cruz Out of the Blue
Victor Cruz gear is expensive online. But you can recreate the cover of his non-fiction book with ease. You just need a long sleeve gray shirt and football. You might even already have both in your house right now. He famously would dance the salsa in the end zone after his touchdowns.
Julia from I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
It doesn’t get simper than this costume. Become Julia with a red tank top and put your hair in a braid. Done.
Halloween or Book Character Day Pictures
We hope you found some great book character costumes for teachers to try for Halloween or book character day this year. We’d love to see pictures of what you come up with. Send them to us here or tag us on Instagram.