Full disclosure, I am a writer, an avid reader, a former English teacher, and worked in a library whilst doing my degrees. In short, I love books. I think that Book Week is fantastic and an important time to celebrate reading and writing. We celebrate sport and movie stars all the time, so it’s great to have a time to celebrate books.
And for me, that’s what Book Week is all about, celebrating books. It’s a chance to bring the spirit of fandom to books. My children’s school asked for children to dress up as characters from Australian books, which I thought was a lovely way to demonstrate support for the Australian book industry. It also helped really focus on celebrating books and not simply rehashing disney costumes that the kids already wear on weekends or football jerseys. Kids already celebrate their love of these things all the time so it was lovely to see books truly get given the focus they deserve.
But finding costumes for Australian books is hard and I already have superhero costumes at home and my kid loves heroes and although they know of the heroes through TV they are originally from comicBOOKS, I hear some fellow parents say. Don’t I have enough stress without adding book week? And I understand that, I really do. But I’ve got good news on both fronts. There are some really easy to costume Australian books, and it’ll open up discussions with your children about Australian literature. Talking about books can be exciting not stressful. Think of it as a fun thing where you get to learn about new books rather a drain on your time and sanity. So how about I give you some examples of easy to costume Australian books to take some stress out of the idea?
For little kids still into picture books, Andrew Daddo is an awesome source of costuming. To be the little girl from I Do It all you need is a green dress, some red and white striped tights, and a toy monkey. You’ve possibly got something similar left over from the festive season. So the costume is easy and you get to talk about and read this fantastic book. I also love Andrew Daddo’s Cheeky Monkey. A stripey shirt and red tracksuit pants or a blue shirt and yellow tracksuit pants has you costumed and reading a great story.
Do your kids love the word bum? Mine do. Tim Winton’s Bugalugs Bum Thief is super easy to costume. Hawaiian shirt, board shorts, bucket hat and a rope around the waist. Heck, Tim Winton also wrote Lockie Leonard, that’s another source of beachwear for any of your mini surfers and kids love those stories.
Sorry, my children only like pirates. GREAT. Introduce your kids to Andy Griffiths’ Tree House series. They can go as Captain Wooden Head.
My kid only dresses like princesses. Fabulous. Pamela Freeman has you covered with Princess Betony.
Actually I meant swashbuckling hero types not pirates or Princesses. Fine, Allison Tait’s Map Maker series is for you.
Are there any casual costumes out there? Glad you asked. Deborah Abela’s Max Remy Super Spy books were a huge hit with my nieces. Cargo pants, orange top, and you’re ready become a spy.
My kid loves skateboarding. Anita Heiss has you covered with Harry’s Secret. A skateboard, and an Indigenous flag sticker for it.
My daughter loves pretty dresses and pigs. Check and checkmate. Here’s Jacqueline Harvey with Clementine Rose. Blue dress, red bow, red shoes, and a toy pig. You’re done.
I want to dress my kid as an animal. Great. Koalas, possums, and wombats are in a huge amount of picture books. You can’t swing a dingo in an Australian picture book festival without hitting an animal book.
This is crazy, but I just happen to have a giant unicycle lying about my place, is there anyway I could incorporate that into Book Week. Why yes, yes you can. A.B. Paterson’s Mulga Bill’s Bicycle is an oldie but a goldie.
I want my kid to wear my old nightie and a shower cap. Ooookay… that’s oddly specific but I can help you out there too. Try Seven Little Australians.
There are so many Australian authors out there with great books and easy costumes to make. Book week is a fabulous opportunity to google them, read them, and fall in love with them. So in 2017 I challenge you to catch the Book Week fever. Next year you can choose a book week costume that is just as quick and easy as a store bought dress up costume but has the added bonus of talking about Australian books and bringing the spirit of fandom to reading. Let’s really love books! Get excited about new books and let your kids catch your enthusiasm. Show them that there are more things to be excited about than those costumes that they already own and love.