The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, are one of my favorite series ever, so I was happy to be assigned to help lead the book club with two other families from our homeschool group. Our group reads and discusses three books a year together, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is our first for this year.
Families can choose between reading the novel aloud together, having older kids read it to themselves, or listening to the audiobook. We kind of did all three because we read the book before together awhile back. Last month, Judah and I brushed up on the story by reading it alone again, and Amie listened to the audiobook.
I’ve been sick with a virus-turned-sinus-infection for over two weeks, which made school patchy. For three days I lost my voice altogether, so we did some Narnia movie marathons, both with the new version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and the old BBC versions. I took the opportunity of laying in bed a lot and re-reading the whole Narnia series, and it was delightful.
Thankfully I was on the mend in time for Book Club and fully immersed in the world of Narnia!
One of the joys of having older kids is feeling like I have energy to be creative again.
Last year I helped with the book club for Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers, by Ralph Moody. That was so much fun, but it also felt a bit stressful to plan and prepare for it. I’m realizing part of it was that I’d never done anything like it before and probably had way too many expectations on myself! Ah well. We all had a wonderful time just the same.
Still, it’s amazing what less than a year can do.
It’s not just that I’m more rested now that my kids are becoming independent; it’s that they’re old enough to help with ideas and the work. Also our homeschool group has grown this year so that three moms lead a book club together, rather than two, and that makes such a difference.
We were busy/sick this time around, so while the moms would’ve preferred a coffee date, we did our main planning over email, and read the ideas to our kids to let them chime in.
Here’s our big secret: in order to have a successful Book Club, it does not take being a Pinterest mom (Kelly, Beth, and I would be the first to tell you we’re not), and it doesn’t even take homeschooling your kids;
The only magic ingredient is enthusiasm.
It’s true! It’s amazing the wonder that overtakes a child when he or she sees that you dive in and enjoy something creative — especially something you can share with them.
When Judah read over our idea list he was amazed and impressed; simply because grown ups had taken time out of their schedule to be creative and share ideas together about a children’s book. His request was everyone dress up, including the moms. Many of us did! And those who didn’t want to dress up, didn’t, and that was just fine!
Our hope for all Book Clubs is that everyone has fun and no one feels pressure.
I’d like to say here that birthday parties for my kids have always stressed me out. Always. When I imagine a theme and decorations and party favors I feel this black cloud settle over me. I know it sounds terrible, but in my head it’s a show I have to put on to impress people. So typically my response to the black cloud is to rebel and not give my kids traditional birthday parties.
I know, it’s terrible. All you moms who plan some pretty awesome parties: you have my admiration.
But Book Club feels different to me. It makes me happy to build a celebration around a book; and there really aren’t expectations for Book Clubs. Instead of an event I put on to entertain kids, we love inviting the kids to contribute and have fun with each other.
To keep myself from getting stressed out, I weighed all my childrens’ ideas (and there were a lot of them) with the question, “What’s your plan for carrying that out? Is that something you can do yourself? What do you need from me?” Of course I did a lot of the work, but I told them my main priorities and asked them what theirs were and what they could contribute, and we settled somewhere in the middle.
We worked as a team and it was so fun. Judah and Amie cleaned both bathrooms on Thursday. The four kids and I made a His House run (our favorite thrift store) to find costumes — and I told them ahead of time that if we couldn’t find it at that one store, we’d make do. David pitched in by cutting cardboard shields and designing Gabe’s Aslan mask. Judah decorated the wardrobe door. And of course our friends came early Friday to help decorate and make tea and cheese sandwiches.
We sent out an email ahead of time letting other families know the schedule, and giving a list of items people can bring (like food, paper goods, markers, and picnic blankets).
During Book Club, the non-hosting moms pitch in and help as needed with crafts and food and watching the toddlers.
And so, on Friday morning, we turned down the lights, lit candles, and played the soundtrack from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie. We had a cool, overcast day that seemed to fit perfectly.
If you’re interested, here’s our schedule:
10:00: Arrive and hang coats
10:15-10:45: Tea and scones with Mr. Tumnus, Kelly leads book discussion (kids under 6 play outside)
10:45-11 White Witch freeze tag
11:00-11:30 Decorate crowns and shields
11:30 Lunch: Beaver’s feast (British cheese sandwiches, tater tots, orange marmalade sticky buns)
12:00 Taste Turkish delight! And chocolate, of course
12:00 Free play, clean up, get ready to go home
1:00 pm Take a nap! 🙂
It was such a special memory; on Saturday, Amie woke up and said, “Mom, I just wish today was Book Club again!”
My goal is to document all three of our book clubs this year for the blog. If you want a peek into one of last year’s, see it here.
Left to right, Mrs. McReady, Edmund, the White Witch, Tumnus the Faun, and Aslan