Storybook-based Tandem Costumes for Halloween

Published on: October 11, 2016

Want to make your Halloween costume different from last year’s (and different from everybody else’s)? Here to help are some ideas based on storybook characters to use or to inspire your own! By Anna Manuel   Halloween is just around the corner and you and your child will surely get invited to parties, in which case you’ll have to dress up. Don’t fret! I understand it can feel more stressful than fun, but it doesn’t have to be that way this year! Why not try these parent-child or sibling pair storybook-inspired dress-up ideas? Make it quick and unique! For me, dressing up for Halloween or any costume party for that matter becomes meaningful when I connect closely with the character I am dressing up as. So I think of the storybook characters I loved when I was a kid and as an adult. It makes conceptualizing and creating fun and exciting!

Practical tips

A few practical tips in costume making:
  1. Look through your dresser and find the colors/color scheme of the characters you’re going after – they don’t have to exactly match the characters; the color scheme will give off a feeling of who the characters are.
  2. Look through your kitchen or your child’s bedroom/toy area – lots of hidden costume/props materials in these places!
  3. You don’t have to go for the WHOLE costume, pick that distinguishing symbol/body part/prop and make it big, and sometimes that’s all you need to pull off a character. 

Recognizable pairs from books

Feed off you and your child’s current storybook craze (look, it doesn’t have to be scary). Here are some rather recognizable but not overused ideas:

Photo credit: Tell and Love Party

Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

Your child can dress up as Max, the stubborn, imaginative boy who sets off on a boat to where the wild things are – which you (or your partner/another child) will be! Use a onesie, make a crown out of paper, and a scepter out of a spatula – and let the Wild Rumpus start!

The Gruffalo’s Child, by Julia Donaldson

You can be the Gruffalo and your child can be, errr, the Gruffalo’s Child! Get something brown like crumpled up and painted newspaper or drape a brown blanket over yourself, and stick furry things on it. Have your child carry around a stick man, and paint tusks, orange eyes and a green wart on your noses, and prickles all over your back! Or you can be the mouse the Gruffalo’s Child is scared of – don’t forget to carry a nut!

Photo via Imgur

The BFG, by Roald Dahl

Your son/daughter can be Sophie (in a nightgown with round-rimmed glasses and a book) and you can be the Big Friendly Giant! Just gather up a round-neck top, a vest, a pair of pants and dream trumpet (make it wearable so as to keep both of your hands free to grab your kid and put in your bag to protect him/her from frothbuggling giants if needed!) Attach ginormous ears onto a headband to give you the most distinguishing feature of the BFG – and the human beans will love you!

Photo credit: Kristen Dabbs

Elephant and Piggie, by Mo Willems 

Costumes are quite straightforward and easy to make (or pull out from the closet!). Face paint completes the seemingly plain costumes.

Photo credit: Lindsay Graviet

The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein 

This is a giveaway, the tree has always been the symbol for a parent – so, don some brown clothes, make a wig out of green clothes/towel/crepe paper, add some red on it as apples, and become the selfless tree in this all time favorite story! Your child will of course be the Boy (or Girl, why ever not?) who wears red suspenders and a green shirt.

Where’s My Mummy? by Caroline Crimi

A staple Halloween character, why not come this year as a mommy mummy-baby mummy tandem? As you will be wrapped up in cloth/gauze bandage, make sure it’s comfortable for you and your child. Wrapping yourself quite nicely from the neck up usually makes it up for the rest of your body unwrapped!   What matters most is making the Halloween costume experience into a meaningful, memorable, and creative bonding experience between you and your child. Also think about it as getting them to read more, after seeing and making their favorite storybook characters come to life. Check out the library to find more lovable character-tandem ideas!
Cover photo by Haley Phelps on Unsplash

About the Author

Anna Manuel wears many hats as a storyteller, a reading specialist, a literacy advocate, and now a children’s book author. She juggles her time between Bangkok and Melbourne to work with children and their families under her story-services company, Heads and Tales. She has taken courses on productivity and mindfulness to powerfully invest her time to do things that matter. Contact her at,
The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects. BAMBI News welcomes volunteer contributors to our magazine. Please contact