Searching for creative ideas for your child’s upcoming birthday party or milestone celebration? Why not try something new this year and feature children’s books. Incorporating a dose of literacy learning into party planning can be easy; and, a great way to support an interest in reading and books.
As a language arts teacher turned event planner, I strive to integrate reading into children’s events I host. Whether a birthday party, community gathering, or childcare service, kids will find quality children’s literature at the center of the fun. Why? Reading is one of the most precious gifts we can offer. When we model a love for reading, we inspire a magical, lifelong relationship with stories.
Planning a literacy-centered children’s party can be enjoyable and beneficial for all. As a starting place, select an age-appropriate children’s title that presents an engaging party theme. A child’s most cherished reads work well for the initial brainstorm. Popular, best-selling titles also make great choices, as pint-sized party guests will likely have some insight into the characters, plot, and theme you’re going for, overall.
These lively, fan-favorites lend themselves nicely for a great theme party!
1. Hank’s Big Day: The Story of a Bug by Evan Kuhlman (Bug/Insect Party)
2. Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin (Pizza Party)
3. Dylan the Villain by K.G. Campbell (Superheroes vs. Villains Party)
4. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae (Dance Party)
5. It Came In the Mail by Ben Clanton (Dragon Party)
6. A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young (Unicorn Party)
7. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt (Art/Coloring Party)
8. Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems (Monster Party)
9. The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen (Undersea Life/Ocean Party)
10. Is That Wise, Pig? By Jan Thomas (Farm Animals/Cooking Party)
Once you’ve decided on a title, consider the following party planning tips:
Use the book as a party ice breaker for a crowd of little ones with a fun, interactive read aloud. Read the story with expression and enthusiasm, add props, encourage movement, and invite the audience to repeat verses or sing along with the characters.
Conduct follow-up activities such as making crafts, playing games, or listening to children’s music related to the story.
Use the book as a centerpiece at each table, and encourage youngsters to chat about their favorite characters and parts of the story.
Have the story double as an autograph book and invite guests to sign or write a celebratory message.
As a party favor, gift your child’s guests with a copy of the book to take home for further enjoyment. Better yet, summon your child to compose a special message, or illustration if a prewriter, on the inside covers.
Instead of purchasing a gift, propose guests donate to a local Austin charity that supports early literacy, such as Literacy First.
In need of additional book suggestions? Consult the Austin Public Library’s “We Recommend” tab at library.austintexas.gov and peruse the children’s lists categorized by age, grade and genre. As well, the Texas 2×2 Reading List, sponsored by the Texas Library Association, names great titles for children age two to second grade. Some titles can be downloaded for free by clicking here. For slightly older children, the Texas Bluebonnet Award list, also compiled by the Texas Library Association, is a stellar resource aimed at grades 3-6. You can find the 2018-2019 list here.
Good luck, and here’s to building a community of enthusiastic, lifelong readers!
For more information on literacy centered children’s parties, events, and childcare, visit the Spunky Kids Website, connect on Facebook and Instagram @spunkykidsco, or call 512.914.8060.
This article was written by Carly Ferguson, owner and operator of Spunky Kids Austin. She is a toddler mom, certified Texas literacy teacher, and holds a Master of Arts degree in Children’s and Adolescent Literature from The Ohio State University.