Your kids may have spent the past two months at the pool, park and playground without a thought to books, but all that can change today! Help them get excited about back to school by celebrating Read a Book Day by helping them plan a fun D.I.Y. Book Lovers Party for their friends.
Before your guests R.S.V.P. make sure they know this party is strictly B.Y.O.B.—Bring Your Own Book! Kids can bring a favorite book to show and spark book-themed conversations. Help kids get started by asking them simple questions about their book. Who is the main character? Is their book funny or is it sad? What is their favorite part?
You can also ask guests to bring another book they no longer want, and use it for a book swap. That way, everyone leaves your get-together with the best party favor ever, a book that was once loved by a friend. You can also give each guest their own dollar store flashlight to take home, perfect for reading their new book under the covers. (Reading seems more fun when kids think they’re getting away with something!)
As each guests enters your party, assign them a children’s book character by affixing a nametag to their forehead. You could simply use a sticky note, but we like to create a simple band of construction paper kids wear like a crown around their head, then tape the name tag to that. Guests can’t see the name on their own forehead, so they’ll have to ask questions of the other guests to try to solve the mystery. This game gets lots of giggles just from the novelty of having a silly character name on your forehead. Encourage cooperation by promising a group treat when everyone has successfully guessed their character.
Kid Lit Charades
Charlotte’s Web. Goodnight Moon. Where the Wild Things Are. Little House on the Prairie. Green Eggs and Ham. Within minutes you can think of dozens of great children’s book titles for kids to act out in a game of charades. Don’t be surprised when even the parents want to get in on the fun of this classic game!
If your child, or any of their guests, has a flare for the dramatic, let them entertain the other kids with an over-the-top-reading of a simple children’s book, like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss. Instruct the young orator to read the words as if reading a very serious poem, and invite other children to mime the actions in similarly dramatic fashion. Imagine the laughs as kids bring to life lines like, “Some are sad. And some are glad. And some are very, very bad. Why are they sad and glad and bad? I do not know. Go ask your dad.”
Set up a simple craft corner where kids can make their own bookworm bookmark. Stock it with colorful construction paper and even spare wrapping paper and paint color sample strips. You can cut circles ahead of time for younger kids, and let older kids practice their scissors skills by cutting their own segments for their heads and bodies. We used toilet paper tubes as templates to draw the circles then stacked several papers and cut them all at once. Tape segments together to make a bookworm as long as you like. Don’t forget to draw a cute face, complete with eyeglasses!
The bookworm theme can easily be carried out on your snack table, too. Try decorating brownies with gummi worms or create your own bookworms by lining up colored marshmallows or gumdrops and pressing them gently into the frosting. Arrange small bowls of snacks in a caterpillar shape on your table with a large tomato or apple as the head. A simple tray of chocolate chip cookies fits the book theme beautifully when you prop up a copy of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie next to it. Or get inspiration from Green Eggs and Ham by making deviled eggs with avocado in place of mayo. And a veggie tray with carrots looks extra tempting with a copy of Peter Rabbit nearby.
Your Book Lovers party can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. On the simple end of the scale you could just create a cozy nook with lots of comfy pillows and invite 2 or 3 of your child’s friends to come read together and enjoy some snacks. On the more elaborate end of the scale, you could invite guests to come in costume, dressing as characters like Where’s Waldo, Pippi Longstockings, Laura Ingalls and Peter Pan. Big or small, your party can help kids see the fun and social side of reading and encourage them to look to books for their late summer entertainment!