How to organize a book party
Once my kids are old enough to enjoy the chapter books, one tradition I hope to steal from a friend of mine is “book party.” How it works: Parents read aloud from a book of chapters to children, sometimes on a car trip or in the evening before bed. (Alternatively, the whole family could read a “book club” style book.) After everyone has read the book, they all plan a “book party” one night themed around that book. It’s a ritual that everyone should try at least once.
Benefits of the book party
Having a family event planned at the end of a book makes it a more special occasion to read a book in the first place, promote literacy and family ties. Reading aloud to children is one of the best strategies for promote good reading skills as soon as they enter school, even after they can read for themselves.
Research shows that eating meals together as a family is good for managing stress. Linking food to the book could encourage a picky eater try a new food by contextualizing it and making it fun. You might also end up encouraging your children to help you in the kitchen this way, which, although perhaps a messy idea, could end up creating good habits.
Where to find inspiration for your book party
If you want to choose a book that you know will make a good themed feast before you read it, you can select one that is known for its food moments. Some popular books, especially series, have made cookbooks to accompany the fiction. Some popular children’s books with cookbooks include:
Keep in mind that these cookbooks are often “unofficial” collections, not technically affiliated with the brand. However, you don’t have to pick a “food-based” book for your book feast. Any book can have a book feast, even if it’s set during the Great Depression or the Irish Potato Famine. What a learning experience that would be, right? Lots of lessons on empathy and economics to be had right there.
You can also create your own recipes to bind in books. My friend’s kids don’t like fantasy and love historical fiction, so she pulls out her vintage cookbooks for their book parties. Let your creativity flow. Local librarians might be able to play around with some ideas and, of course, the queen of cute food ideas, pinterestwill be there to help fill in the blanks.
However, the most creative minds in the room might be your kids. They’ll likely remember food details from the books and have great ideas on how to incorporate them into your family meal.
Other book festival activities
If there’s a movie adaptation of the book you read, you can have a movie night after your meal. Follow it with a conversation about what was the same and different in the film adaptation, and maybe even which was better.
Have a family discussion about the book. What did you like, dislike, have questions about and feel touched by the book? If the book tackles “big talk” style issues – as in the case of my friend whose children were kicked in World War II and therefore learned about the Holocaust at the tender ages of six and eight years – this could be a good time to debrief and make sure everyone understands the nuances and context of these stories. Connect the stories to the real world, to your lives, and to other stories you read and love. And, of course, delicious food.
Finally, at the table, choose your next book! For your sake and theirs, make sure it’s a treat for each of the senses.