20 Easy Bookish Halloween Costumes for Kids and Adults

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The nights are getting darker and in some places, that chill has struck the wind…are your pumpkins and candy bowls ready? Halloween is almost here! That wonderful, spooky time of year where we get spooky — or just dress up in easy book character costumes to celebrate the characters we love!

And there are so many characters to love! Some of the most classic, iconic and beloved characters of our times come into our lives through the books we read, which means books can offer up an endless supply of ideas for Halloween costumes, for kids, teens and adults alike. (Hello, where do yo think you are? Of course we’re all about the books here.)

But hey, it’s 2021. There’s a pandemic (still) on, the world is (still) burning, and things are hard. If Halloween snuck up on you and you need a quick fix to find a great Halloween costume this year (or just don’t have the energy for anything elaborate)…hey, friend, I feel that.

The good news is, there’s still plenty of fun options you can pull together at a moment’s notice, and everything on this list is super easy, too. From the Wimpy Kid to the Wandaverse to Ms. Marvel, don’t worry, there’s something on this list of easy book character costumes for you.

Here are 20 easy bookish Halloween costume ideas:

Easy Book Character Costumes for Kids

Eloise, from Eloise by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight

This precocious little troublemaker is one of my all-time favorites, and her iconic look is actually very simple. Just pull together a white button-down top, a black skirt, black suspenders, white socks and black flats. Leave hair awry and tie back with a red bow. Hope your child doesn’t acquire the attitude.

Stella Diaz from Stella Dias Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez

This sweet middle grade protagonist is a pillar of courage and heart! I’d opt for the classic look of the first two books of the series, with a black tee, blue jumper, black leggings. Top it off with a hair band and red flats, and don’t forget the infectious attitude.

Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

This extraordinarily popular character is in fact quite easy to bring to life! All you need is a white T-shirt, black shorts, and a black backpack. To take it over the top, add this printable mask from Penguin.

Elizabeth from Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko

This scrappy heroine has a distinct style that is easy to replicate. Fashion your own paper bag princess dress with this tutorial from Mama Papa Bubba.

Max from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Another iconic but surprisingly simple costume! There are two ways to take it easy with this one. If you have the time and budget, grab an adorable costume kit from Etsy and call it good. But if you’d rather DIY, I’ve still got you. All you need is a white onesie or sweatshirt and sweatpants set, and some construction paper to fashion a crown and tail. Thanks to Franklin Springboro Public Library, you can use this printable template for a simple guide.

Betsey Biggalow, from Magic Betsey by Malorie Blackman

I don’t have a tutorial from this one, but I don’t think you need it to bring to life this delightful character from a Children’s Laureate. Drape a purple cape or blanket over a white button-up top and jeans, and top it off with a top hat and magic wand. To go the extra mile, cover the hat with white construction paper and decorate with yellow stars.

Sam Wu, from Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts by Kevin Tsang, Katie Tsang, and Nathan Reed

Another character with a distinct but easy look, and an especially appropriate set of books for the Halloween season! (Don’t miss this book reading video from the authors.) To bring Sam to life, just pull together green pants, a blue top, and green glasses (or create your own from construction paper using the round template from this First Palatte printables set).

Alice from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Sir John Tenniel

We can all recognize Alice in a flash from her blue dress and pinafore. Polka Dot Chair offers several ideas on how to bring this character to life with no-sew creativity.

Easy Book Character Costumes for Teens

Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

With the trilogy adaptation concluded earlier this year on Netflix, Lara Jean’s signature look should be recognizable with her trademark stripes, florals, sweaters, skirts and scrunchies. Add her five crushes’ names on envelopes to carry with you to make it crystal clear.

T’Challa from Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nahisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze

There’s a few options for this one, but if you want to keep this as easy as possible, I advise black pants and a fitted mock neck top, and investing in an elegant cosplay jacket to layer over them like this one. If you’re crafty, you may be able to make your own with these sewing patterns from Mood Sewciety.

Mystique from Mystique by Brian K. Vaughan, Jorge Lucas, Michael Ryan, and Manuel Garcia

The cool thing about Mystique is that she could be anyone, or anywhere — in this particular comic she’s even taking on the role of an undercover spy. Go true mystique with some blue leggings, top, and face paint, or keep it lowkey as Mystique under cover as a high school student, party guest, or known figure by dressing however you wish, but with the added touch of Mystique’s glinting yellow eyes.

Waldo from Where’s Waldo by Martin Handford

For a low maintenance teen Waldo is chill, easy and comfortable. Grab a red and white striped tee, knit yourself a Waldo hat with this pattern from Ravelry, and pop on a pair of dark-rimmed round glasses.

Kamala Khan from Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, Sara Pichelli, and Adrian Alphona

This superteen’s signature look can be emulated with a black lightning tee, a brightly printed scarf, a denim skirt, and red tights. A tutorial to help you pull it all together can be found at White Hot Room.

Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Sir John Tenniel

This is one with a lot open room for creativity. Keep it simple with a red dress, red lipstick and a deck of cards, or get elaborate with dramatic touches like a deck of cards collar, crown, or makeup tutorials from Hative.   

Nancy Drew from Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene, Mildred A. Wirt, and Russell H. Tandy

Channel this classic teen super sleuth with a 1960s-style dress and a magnifying glass. Get in character by styling your hair with some extra flip and a headband. This costume guide from Costume Wall can give you some ideas.

Miles Morales from Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli, Chris Samnee, and David Marquez

The clutch factor for this one is a navy hoodie with red detailing, but you can dial up the impact with a Spidey mask or other iconic details. For a full DIY approach, this video from The Costume Kid is a great resource.

Easy Book Character Costumes for Adults

Wanda Maximoff from Marvel Comics

The new show offers up tons of options, but you can pull together your own retro Scarlet Witch vibes wth a red leotard and cape, and bubble gum pink tights. If you want an even more relaxed look, tap into the show’s Modern Family vibes with some old sweats and a plaid bathrobe. Be sure to occasionally break the fourth wall.

For inspo, a check out the WandaVision coloring book or the full breakdown of Wanda’s many iconic looks on the show can be found at SyFy Wire.

James Bond from Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

To channel the vibes of 007, dress in your sharpest tux, act suave, and for bonus points, add a gadget or a Walther PPK model from Etsy designer  

Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

To make a statement with the Handmaid’s Tale’s foreboding dystopian future, all you need is a bright red cloak and a handmaid’s signature bonnet, which you can create with the help of this video tutorial from Evie Willox.

Nick Fury from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Hydra Reborn by Scott Lobdell and Eliot Brown

It’s not easy to look this badass while running the world’s greatest organization of spies, unless you follow this simply DIY tutorial from Costume Wall. With a sleek long black jacket, black top and utilitarian pants and boots, you’ll be ready to kick ass in no top. Don’t forget the eye patch.

– Emily Wenstrom

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