Books are great for connecting! If you have children and want to encourage a love for reading and make space for friends we have an idea for you!
Decide who you are going to invite. This is a great place to start because it sets some natural boundaries for the rest of your planning.
Choose your book. Start with a book you know your kids love. Be sure to keep it age-appropriate for the group.
Start inviting. I like to send this information in a text because they can look back at the information easily to remember the details.
In your invitation be sure to include:
The book with the title and the author
Instructions about reading ahead of time.
Share some details about what they can expect during the party
If you need to know who to expect let them know
Planning the event
I start by reading through the book with sticky notes and a pen. When reading I make myself all kinds of interesting notes on ideas that stand out. If we are dealing with a younger set of kids I consider activities where they can move around. Once I have done this brainstorming I look back through the ideas and pick the most fun ones.
I often go to Pinterest. Looking up the book some times leads to ideas. But what I do most often is take one of my brainstorming ideas and search from those. For example with the book Duck on a Bike by David Shannon I might google “duck crafts.”
If the book talks about a duck we might stop and act like a duck for a little while. The book Gorilla, Gorilla there are actually movements that you do with the book as you go through it. You pretend to be each animal. Kids LOVE it.
In the book Pancakes, Pancakes! they making pancakes so we make pancakes from scratch each time we read this book. In Curious George Makes Pancakes , little George also makes pancakes…this is another one that you could incorporate cooking. George hides in the book and that would be a good time to pretend to be George and try to hide.
As you look a craft idea may come to mind as well. Is there a kite in the book? Like in Curious George Flies a Kite. Try your hand at kite making. Have an real kite on hand and help the kids take turn flying a kite.
The smaller the children the shorter the book should be. And make sure that the illustrations are good. Children will pay attention better if they have beautiful pictures to look at.
For older kids (late elementary) just remember their attention span is only so long. You may want to either have them all come having read the book and just have a book discussion or have a book that isn’t so time consuming that they don’t get to do hands on activities. You can have wonderful conversations with older kids who might be excited about the book without trying to read it together.
The goal is to develop a love for reading. We want to introduce them to fascinating characters that they want to learn about. Take them to places they have never been but might want to go. Talk with them about what they think it would be like to visit the setting of the story. Imagine the weather and the surroundings.
A book is a great invitation into conversation that you might never have otherwise.
I have some excellent book ideas for you. Every single one of these are tried and true books we have read to all of our children. If they are on these lists (or mentioned in the article) you can know that our boys and girls all loved these books.
Older elementary children:
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
Teddy’s Button by Amy LeFeuvre (Might be our #1 favorite)
Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
The Wizard of Ox (in its original version) L. Frank Baum
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
There is an Owl in the Shower by Jean Craighead George