Host a Summer Reading Party! by Jenny Meyerhoff
Summer is nearly here and for those of us in the book-loving tribe, summer comes filled with all kinds of delicious book-related connotations: summer reading club at the library, reading poolside or stretched out on a beach towel, endless stretches of time with nothing to do but lose ourselves in a great story.
My childhood summers are filled with memories like these, and one of the great pleasures of being a mother has been sharing my love of books with my children. I completely understood when my thirteen-year-old son chose his first book of the summer by length, 800 pages. When you’ve got all the time in the world, you want a book that will really last!
But reading is a solitary activity, and summer is also a great time for socializing and fun, so here is my suggestion for combing the two. Host a Summer Reading Party! The suggestions below come from actual parties I’ve hosted for my kids. They could be used by parents, teachers, librarians, or even adapted to suit a party for grown-ups! Or, if you love one book in particular, then narrow your focus.
Let your imaginations go wild.
Write a mini-book and either hand deliver or mail out.
Using 4×6 index cards folded in half, fill with two pieces of 4×6 paper folded in half and either staple or sew along the fold. That gives you eight pages.
On the index card cover, write your title, for example, The Best Book Party Ever. Cover illustrations are optional.
On the pages you write a little story along the lines of, Once upon a time there was a girl who loved reading…or a library filled with books. Continue the story, explaining the desire to join with others to share a love of reading including, of course, relevant party information like day or time. End your story with the happy conclusion of everyone attending and having a wonderful time.
Book Bingo—Create bingo boards using favorite book covers, keeping a set of covers for the caller.
Make a Bookmark—Use 2×8 pieces of poster board and let guests decorate with stickers and paint, or even buy a bookmark kit, like the magic scratch or foam kits.
Musical Books—Kids walk around chairs with books on them, when the music stops, they sit and read.
Pin the Book on the Bookshelf – Make a picture of a bookshelf with empty spaces, and then have paper “spines” for guest to try to fit on the shelf.
Write a Book: For my daughter’s 8th birthday, I wrote and bound a mad-lib’s type story. Guests filled in the blanks and then illustrated their own books.
Book Jeopardy: Create trivia questions from popular books most guests are like to know. Let guests form teams for ease of answering questions.
Decorate Book Ends: By plain metal book ends and decorate with paint pens, or by gluing on objects like baseballs or princesses.
Book Cover Photo Op: On large foam board, draw or copy favorite characters or book covers, with holes cut out where faces would be. Let guests take pictures as the different characters.
Show-and-Tell: Let guests recommend their favorite titles to other attendees.
Costumes: Invite everyone to come dressed as their favorite character.
Book swap: Have everyone bring a title to trade.
Read Aloud: Of course, no book party would be complete with out a story time.
Book Drive—have guest bring books to donate to an underfunded school or library or great charity that collects books. My favorite is Bernie’s Book Bank. http://www.berniesbookbank.org
Volunteer – perhaps part of your party could include giving back. Reading to kids in need, helping to sort books for local organization. A little digging is sure to turn up opportunities in your area.
Books make great centerpieces and decorations. Pile stacks of them in the center of tables. Make book cover banners to hang on the walls. The photo op boards also serve double duty as decoration.
Food can range from a cake shaped like a book, to making foods featured in favorite books. Turkish delight, anyone? Butterbeer?
Books and bookmarks make great favors. So do notebooks and pencils.
In my family, we’ve hosted a Book Birthday Party, A Captain Underpants Party, A Harry Potter Party, and two book themed B’nai Mitzvahs. The parties are unique and always a huge hit!
I hope your book party is a blast!
Jenny Meyerhoff is the author of a young adult novel, Queen of Secrets, and three books for young readers–Sami’s Sleepaway Summer, Third Grade Baby, and most recently, The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger, a story about an aspiring stand-up comic with an unusual catch phrase. Unlike Louie, Jenny is not a comedian, but she does know a lot about barf. After all, she’s a mom. Her three kids love fluffernutters, comedy and reading. Jenny lives in Riverwoods, Illinois with her funny kids and her delightful husband. For more information, visit her website: www.jennymeyerhoff.com.