Gather up your kids and their friends this summer and host a reading-under-the-stars-themed party. No need to travel to a campsite — just set one up in your own backyard or even in your living or play room. The following ideas will help get the party started:
Set up camp: The warm summer air and the stars in the sky form the ideal backdrop for your campfire party. Set up real camping tents or just place sleeping bags or blankets and pillows around a campfire. To make things cozier, you might bring some stuffed animals, too. The campfire or fire pit can be real or pretend. Make sure you have plenty of snacks to feed your campers, including s’mores, popcorn, and cookies. Another necessity is a flashlight for each camper.
Tell the tall tales: Every campfire party needs spooky stories, mysteries, and funny tales to be told. Bring a number of books so you can read the stories out loud. Good choices to set the tone include the Ghost Buddy series written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, or the Goosebumps series written by R.L. Stine. Have your party-goers take turns making up their own tales in a game of flashlight tag. Whoever holds the flashlight tells the next part of the story. Nothing says spooky story like telling a tale with a flashlight under your chin illuminating your animated face.
Read more outdoor themes: If scary doesn’t work with your crowd, choose books that focus on outdoor survival, such as Hatchet written by Gary Paulsen. You can even have the kids do word searches, crafts, and other activities based on the books you decide to read. Another theme that works for campfires is space travel or stargazing. Older readers will enjoy exploring the evolution of the universe in Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time: What the Hubble Telescope Saw written by Elaine Scott. Click here for more stargazing activities. For a switch on the stars theme, read biographies of real life Hollywood and sports “stars.”
Create the drama: Inspire kids to read out loud and with emotion by having them read plays and make it a performance or put on puppet shows. An actual script or play is not necessary as you can even use fiction books as scripts. The kids can write or improvise their own show to create a “Western” at their campfire party. You provide the costumes for a dress-up to get them into character.
Campfire games: Alternate reading time with campfire games. Favorites include “Telephone,” in which the first person begins the game with one line, whispers it into the ear of the person next to her. That person whispers the line in the ear of the person next to her and so on. The last person recites out loud the line, which usually has very little resemblance to the first line. Magic tricks using ropes, cards, and coins will also keep the fun going, or kids can learn the tricks themselves by reading how-to magic books.