23 easy, alternative World Book Day activity ideas

Boy reading a book on his back with his legs resting on a bookcase

World Book Day is on the horizon once again, but wouldn’t it be nice to do something different to just dressing up? Thankfully, there are plenty of other ways you can celebrate all things books and authors.

If you’re trying to think of some fun activities to do on World Book Day on the 5th of March, then look no further. We have gathered some activities for you to do with your learners, many of which can be done remotely. Plus, there isn’t a costume in sight!


Engaging World Book Day activity ideas


1. Drop everything and read (DEAR)

It’s an oldie but a goodie. The idea is simply that everyone (I’m looking at you, lunch supervisors,) has a book on them all day; the school bell is set to ring out randomly throughout the day and when the bell rings, everyone in the building stops what they’re doing and reads the book they have.

Make sure you explain to the pupils that this is to emphasise that reading can be done anywhere and everyone is doing it! It’s lots of fun and breaks down barriers in conversation about books that people are reading.


2. Book swap

A book sale is always a great way to get some extra pennies for the school library, but why not try a book swap? Those who want to take part, bring in a book and swap it for another one brought in by another pupil. You could even have a staff book swap! Make sure to stipulate the condition of the books brought in and perhaps guide pupils to bring in books from their age bracket to ensure even distribution.


3. Recreate a famous scene

Once you’ve finished reading a book the whole class has enjoyed, why not recreate a famous scene from it? This could take the form of a short play with assigned roles and dialogue or something more laid back.

If you go for the latter, Alice in Wonderland’s tea party is a good example. It doesn’t need to be a serious performance piece, but you can capture the mood and environment.  Just let the class have fun with it.


4. Take your favourite character to school

A great World Book Day activity idea is for your pupils to take their favourite character from a book and put them into a new setting or situation and tell the story. It helps pupils more deeply understand the feelings and motivations of the characters they know and love and it helps develop their creative writing skills. 

The Take your favourite character to school worksheet guides pupils to write a diary entry from the point of view of their favourite character on their first day at a new school. There’s even a model diary entry to show them exactly how to do it.



5. Bring in a soundtrack

Pick a short story, a chapter from a book, or even a narrative poem and create your own class band to build a soundtrack.

Bring in some instruments or just use things around the classroom. Discuss as a class what sort of sounds would be appropriate


6. Dress your door

Having your own school competition of dressing your classroom door is a fantastic cross-curricular link between art and English. Pupils can use the front covers of books as inspiration or just completely let their imaginations go wild! Pinterest and Instagram have some incredible examples of World Book Day classroom door examples. Now, who’s got the staple gun?


7. Create a class character

Get together as a class and use all that inspiration you’ve gathered from books and stories to create your own unique character. Brainstorm ideas on the whiteboard to decide how they look, their personality, and what role they might play in a story – will you create the hero or the villain?

Once you’ve got the basis of your character, ask the class to write their own short story about them. You could even give them a story starter for that little extra push.


8. Make a bookmark

Bring an element of crafting to your World Book Day festivities by creating a bookmark based on the favourite book of each pupil.

Pinterest can be a great place to get inspiration for this type of thing, and so can trusty Google. A quick search and we found this piece from We Are Teachers. Between them we found:

  • Crochet Harry Potter Bookmarks
  • Card craft Gruffalo bookmarks
  • Lollipop superhero bookmarks

And plenty more!


9. Re-write the ending

There are lots of gripping book endings out there to enjoy for World Book Day – but does the class think they can do better?

Take a classic story from a kid’s book and challenge the class to write the final couple of pages how they would have ended it.


10. Literacy mural

Go big or go big, we say. If you really want to celebrate reading across the school, why not do it literally? A mural dedicated to your pupils’ favourite books, characters, and authors might seem daunting, but the outcome will be a long-lasting ode to all things books.


11. Mystery book selection

We’ve seen the idea of a book “blind date” shared widely across the internet. Take a selection of books and wrap each of them up individually.


12. Speak with an author

It used to be that you had to contact an author’s agent and negotiate an astronomical amount for a short session with your pupils. But the internet and social media have changed things up and made the contact between schools/teachers and authors a lot easier.

You can start with Twitter. Ask your pupils what questions they would like to ask a chosen author and send them on over. You could also organise a Skype session with the author so that pupils can spend time learning from them, without the extra cost of travel. You can only ask, right?


13. (Really) Short story competition

Take a leaf out of Ernest Hemmingway’s book and go for brevity. Writing and communicating concisely and effectively is one of the most useful skills any writer can have. Encourage this in your class by staging a short story competition.

A page, paragraph, or even a sentence; how short can your short story challenge be?


14. Invest in storytelling at your school

World Book Day is a great opportunity to get your learners excited about reading, but creating a true reading culture at your school takes time. If you’re looking for resources for storytelling lessons, Hope Education has a range of story sacks to help you with just that.

The Travelling Tales series provide teachers with all that is needed for cross-curricular storytelling lessons, centralised around a quality text from top authors like Julia Donaldson. Take a look at the full Travelling Tales range and invest in storytelling at your school.


15. Home reading photo competition

We’re all hoping that our efforts in the classroom can spark a love of books that children take on when they’re at home. To give them that extra bit of encouragement, why not put on a school-wide home reading (we’ve seen it called a #shelfie) photo competition.

Ask your class to take a photo of themselves in front of their bookshelf at home or just sitting in a chair reading. Be sure to get involved yourself at home too.

Once you’ve got them all, wouldn’t they make a fantastic wall display?


16. Comic book strip creations

Kids love their comics, and World Book Day is a great opportunity to let them loose creating their own. Take a famous scene from a book and hand them the skeleton of a comic book strip. Let them get creative and transform the words on the page into a bright and colourful comic.


17. Create some quotation posters

The beauty and emotional impact of a book can sometimes be whittled down into a single sentence. Take the most inspirational words from books the class has been reading and transform them into posters.


18. Design a book cover

Book covers are a fantastic way to bring some art into the World Book Day picture. Get merry with the coloured pens, pencils, or paints and design a brand-new book cover for your favourite title.


19. Visit the library

In a post-pandemic world, how nice will it be to head out to the library and just breathe in all those books? Surrounding children with a glut of stories, characters and worlds to encompass themselves in is one of the best ways to encourage them to take up reading themselves.

Once they’re bitten by the book bug it’ll be hard to pull them away from a one. The local library is one of the best places to start.


20. Host a quiz

Sometimes, there is nothing wrong with adding a bit of a competitive edge into proceedings. Read a short story and have a small quiz prepared to complete after. If the class knows that questions are coming, they’re much more likely to focus extra hard on engaging with the text and diving into the story.

Put the class into teams and offer out some prizes for the winners.


21. Bake your favourite character

No, this isn’t some twisted take on Hansel and Gretel, but it is a good chance to merge World Book Day and baking. Make gingerbread people and then use icing and other decorative edibles and transform them into your class’s favourite character.


22. Guess the book character

A family favourite from many Christmases gone by, this one. Get a sticky note and write down the name of a famous character from books. Stick it on a pupil’s head and challenge them to guess who it is. If they’re finding it too easy, only let them ask yes or no questions.

Alternatively, think of a character yourself and let the whole class try and guess who it is. Whichever you think will draw the most engagement from the class.


23. Head to the World Book Day site

In need of even more ideas? We hope the first 22 of ours have given you plenty of inspiration, but the next best place to head is the World Book Day’s very own website. They’ve collated a whole host of resources to help you get the best out of this year’s event. Among those available is:

  • Activity packs based on your favourite pop culture phenomena like Marvel and Star Wars
  • Teacher tips for encouraging reading and storytelling
  • World Book Day quiz questions


World Book Day: Suggested books

Now you’ve got the activity ideas, you need some inspirational books on which to base them. World Book Day has collated their list of 100 stories to tell on their website, but we’ve handpicked 20 of our favourites for KS1 and KS2 that are sure to excite any class for this year’s event:


  • The Girl of Ink & Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  • Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
  • Millions – Frank Cottrell-Boyce
  • Coraline – Neil Gaiman
  • The Girl Called Owl – Amy Wilson
  • The Twits – Roald Dahl
  • Inside Out & Back Again – Thanha Lai
  • The Diary of a Killer Cat – Anne Fine
  • Mortal Engines – Phillip Reeve
  • Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian
  • A Long Walk to Water – Linda Sue Park
  • Holes – Louis Sachar
  • Cloud Busting – Malorie Blackman
  • The Boy in the Dress – David Walliams
  • The Crossover – Kwame Alexander
  • The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  • Look up! – Nathan Bryon
  • The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Diary of a Wimpy KidJeff Kinney
<a href="https://blog.hope-education.co.uk/author/amber-vaccianna/" target="_self">Amber Vaccianna</a>

Amber Vaccianna

Hope Education writer

25 February 2021

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