Sometimes you just need a reason, any reason, to throw a little party. I can’t think of a better excuse to get your party on than to inspire kids to read. Wondering how a good birthday celebration will get your child to pick up a book? Read on for my best secrets for what cake and streamers have to do with reading.
Authors are people too. Like all people, authors have birthdays! Some authors are alive and well and still celebrating their special day themselves, while others are, well, not so much. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate on their behalf! After all, so many authors have inspired and touched our lives decades after their books were written. To keep the memory alive and thank them for all they have contributed, we should throw them a party. Plus, everyone loves a good time – including kids – and if we help kids see how fun and reading are connected we’ll be shining a positive light on something they don’t ordinarily want to do.
How to throw an author's birthday party in 7 easy steps:
1. Choose an author: This is definitely where you want to get your child involved! Brainstorm a list together of all the children’s book authors you both can name. Scan your own bookshelves for a mental jog, or go online to Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com and enter key words to help you out. Once you have your list, discuss together which authors are cause for celebration. Which ones have written books that your child likes (even a little) or could like if he was motivated? Highlight those names to get started.
Tip: If your child is a reluctant reader, then start by brainstorming the books that have been turned into movies and TV shows he loves. There is no end to these! Here are just a few: Goosebumps series, The Magic School Bus, Charlotte’s Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Harry Potter, Peter Pan, Coraline, Harriet the Spy.
2. Find the authors’ birthdates: This is as easy as cake. Just search their names and birthdays on Google. To up the fun, celebrate a monumental year. (Roald Dahl would be 100 on September 13th!) Choose the one whose birthday is the closest so you don’t have to wait too long to party. For a done-for-you cheat sheet, download my list of famous authors and their birthdays here to get you started.
3. Plan your party: It may be soon in which case you can keep it simple, or the date may be further away, allowing ample planning time as well as time to build anticipation. You’ll need to decide how you’re going to celebrate! You can do the customary routine, such as an easy meal (frozen pizza is just fine!), cake and candles, or add a little flavor by getting into a theme. For example, for Roald Dahl the theme might be chocolate – after all, he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon, everyone can come wearing their pajamas. (YES!)
4. Learn some fun facts: Break out a few interesting details about the chosen author so you can share them during the party. Turn them into a guessing game (What was Maurice Sendak’s favorite character he created? Or Which book came second in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series?) for simple prizes such as a paperback book of choice from Amazon.com!
5. Enjoy the big day: Invite friends or keep it quaint with just family members but either way, be sure to have a good time and get into it. Yes, it’s a bit silly, but why not have fun and get some laughs in? Humor helps kids want to read so if your child sees the fun in the situation, she may be more open to reading books by this author.
6. Take the opportunity to make the connections to reading. We all like a good party, but don’t forget the purpose of this event is to celebrate a writer of wonderful books! Spend time during your celebration and whatever activities you have planned to actually read. Be sure you have a stack of books around – at least one for each person attending. Books by the honored author should be on prominent display and read aloud by the master of ceremonies (AKA mom or dad) at appropriate intervals throughout.
7. Plan your next party (or encourage your child to plan it!): Once you host an author’s birthday party, the kids will likely want to do it again. By choosing a new author to celebrate each season you’ll always have something to look forward to!
Helping children find the joy in reading is often a challenge. That doesn’t mean we can’t have fun while trying. It often takes creative ideas to draw kids to books so don’t be afraid to try something new at home. This idea may not be brand new to your child as classrooms around the world throw author birthday parties with great success (which equals kids having fun while reading). You can’t do this wrong so give it a chance and hey, it’ll be a good excuse to eat pizza and cake for dinner once in a while!
Don't forget to download my cheat sheet of famous authors and their birthdays!