Thursday, June 2, 2016

Celebrating Reading with The Green Ember

For all of you fans of The Green Ember by S.D. Smith, and reading in general, you will understand the excitement of throwing a party to celebrate a book.
I originally got the idea from who else, but Sarah Mackenzie at the Read Aloud Revival.  Members there have access to a guide on planning a party for celebrating books and reading.  I had read the guide before we ever read The Green Ember.  I kept meaning to look at it again but the kids came up with so many ideas, I never had to. 

Posters made by my 7 year old and 9 year old.
Easter decorations "dressed up" as Pickett and Heather.

My real motivation in having a party was to inspire my son who doesn't love reading.  He LOVES The Green EmberHe cannot wait for Ember Falls, the sequel, to be released.  To keep his interest high, we will celebrate while waiting, lest the enthusiasm wanes. 

All three kids were thrilled about having a Rabbit with Swords Party! Their ideas were incredible!  This brainstorming lasted several days and I must say, it was my favorite part.  Imagine a more creative and magical book narration infused with some logistic and trouble shooting. 

I wanted some of my children's friends to have a shared experience of loving a book, so they were invited.  The one stipulation to the invite was that you must read the book to attend.  I was amazed that 4 families got the book just to attend the party. 

I held the party at a local park because I wanted easy clean up and space for the kids to play.  I also knew that would limit my clean up and set up time. 
Felt sashes with inflatable sword, star seek and patches!
Birds of Prey

As each child arrived they were given an inflatable sword and a sash with belt.  This was a huge hit because they all felt like they were in costume!  Those sashes were my favorite part.

Around the park, we had hung orange balloons with brown construction paper wings taped on, as a way of simulating The Birds of Prey.  Although we had planned a Helmer obstacle course around those balloons, that did not happen.  Instead, the kids ran at the Birds of Prey, swords drawn,  screaming the oath!  It was like being in a real battle from the book, at least that is how the kids described it. 
Can you feel the excitement of fighting a Bird of Prey?

We each made a star seek with grosgrain ribbon and popsicle sticks.  They didn't soar, as they kids hoped, but throwing them downhill, helped create that illusion. 

Heather and Pickett relay
My favorite game created was a Heather and Pickett relay race.  A team of two ran to a roll of toilet paper.  There they wrapped "Heather's arm".  They ran back to where they started with the toilet paper to wrap Pickett's leg. Then, the two ran together, all bandaged up, to the finish line.  Need I say that this was a huge hit?

To my horror, most kids had never played pin the tale on the donkey before.  Of course, we had The Green Ember version of my own making, pin the sword on Pickett.  
Pin the Sword on Pickett

After each game, the children received a patch like Blackstar (aka: a home printed sticker).  These were added to their sashes with much pride. 

I kept the food simple.  There was rabbit food of carrots, broccoli, and berries.  We also had peaches with honey on a sweet bread.  For a main dish we enjoyed cheese and bread from Lord Rake's quarters, also known as pizza. 

In all reality the party was simple. We had an idea to have a King Cake with a green ember inside, but instead we gave everyone a green ember at the end.  If we had more time, money or energy, we might have done some guild activities, like planting seeds, making a stained glass window for Light Hall with tissue paper, or spinning a story. 

The purpose was to make reading more magical and create a shared love of literature amongst my children and their friends.  In that, we were totally successful! 

We now have friends who can't wait for Ember Falls to be released and already asking when that party will be!

While they are waiting, some kids have hung their sashes proudly and begun to read on their own, the books which inspired the festivities!   MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

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