Click below for other special reading programs!
Johnny Appleseed'sAnniversary Raise a Reader A Very Merry Unbirthday Sleepover While the Sun is Up Money Storytime Poetry Presentations Storytelling Festival
Parade of Books!
A "Parade of Books" is a special event that is surprisingly easy to plan for your school or community! Children dress up in homemade costumes as their favorite book character and march while carrying the corresponding book!

My rules were:
  • No bloody, gorey costumes...this is not a Halloween parade! (Note: our Book Parades ran the last week of September or the first week of October, so we beat Halloween to the punch. Many kids ended up using their literature based costumes for Halloween.)
  • No comic book superheros or licensed characters (sorry, Rugrats!)
  • No elaborate face makeup; children should be able to put on their own costumes
    The hardest part is giving parents ideas for costumes, which is easy for you, because I have the costume ideas sheet I gave to parents ready to download! Click here, and then come back and click here for the second page! Adapt these (and all other prototypes) as necessary!

    Start planning about a month in advance. Here's a checklist of things to do:

  • Convince administration. Helpful buzzwords: "school spirit," "teamwork," "parent involvement," "literature based," "library promotion," "affective reading goals."
  • Set a date and time.
  • Send out letters to parents about the parade, visit classrooms to verbally explain to kids. I demonstrated making a "Red Riding Hood" out of a scarf, cat ears cut from construction paper and taped to a headband, and construction paper crowns with scarf capes. Emphasize creativity and do-it-yourself spirit, especially if your population has kids that will actually end up having to do it themselves.
  • Inform teachers. If you want to see the letter I sent to teachers, click here.
  • Optional: rent costumed characters. If you are at a school with a budget, contact David Chew at Costume Specialists, 1-800-596-9357 to contract for splendid full body and head costumes. At our parades, we always rented two, one to march at the start and one at the end. They are always huge hits! Don't forget to find a teenage or adult volunteer to wear the heavy rented costume!
  • Buy long dowel rods so classes can make banners with their room numbers behind which to walk.
  • Make a beautiful banner that will start the parade. Ours said, "Parade of Books."
  • Make arrangements for kids who come without costume to sit and watch with another class. Our rule: you must be costumed to march. Telling the first graders they would have to sit with the eighth graders was a good impetus to remember a costume.
  • Make a press release and inform local media.
  • Make a cassette of march music. Get hold of a "boom box" radio. Buy batteries.
  • Read parade books to get the kids psyched, like:
    Parade by Donald Crews
    The Best Bug Parade by Stuart Murphy
    And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
    Naty's Parade by Gina Freschet
    Hars Off for the Fourth of July by Harriet Ziefert
    The Little Band by James Sage
  • Make a map of marching route. We just marched on the inside and around the school. Distribute maps to teachers the day before the parade, along with reminders to have their dowel banners ready, and their students ready ten minutes before scheduled marching time. Have a "plan B" in case of rain!
  • Send home reminders the week before.
  • Verbal reminder to children the day before, use the school intercom if possible. Remind kids to bring the book which inspired their costume, if possible.
  • Remind participating teachers the day before in writing, giving details on what they are expected to do.

    On the day, pick up the classes about ten minutes before scheduled marching and line them up. Turn on the march tape and go! Everybody wave and smile!

    I was really concerned that working parents would have a problem with the demands of making a costume, but instead, they really responded favorably to the time spent with their child deciding on and creating a costume, and the non-competetive atmosphere. Teachers will be more receptive to the event the less you ask them to do, so be organized. Once you do it one year, it will be a piece of cake...which is a good thing, because this kind of fun has to be annual!

    Search: Enter keywords...

    Home to Planet Esmé