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Literary Games for Young Book Lovers

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 28 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Children who love to read often feel connected to each other as if by a special bond. And what better way to encourage this love of literature than to make this bond even tighter?

With so many children's books – and children's authors – popular these days, finding kids who have a special book or writer in common is much easier than you might think.

With some of the games listed below members of the youth group will have to be divided up into certain groups, such as “Harry Potter experts” or “Jacqueline Wilson fans”.

Other games will suit any child who loves to read, regardless of what he or she will have read. If they are not familiar with a certain book or author, the games will definitely encourage them to develop an interest. As you will no doubt discover, a youth group trip to the local library might be next...

Test Your Trivia

Divide up into groups of story, character or author fans – perhaps four to a group, depending on how many children there are in total. Tell them to go home and bone up on their chosen character etc, and be prepared to return the following session with as much information as possible. Kind of like Junior Mastermind – only the subject is always books, and children compete in groups.

During the next session, ask the children a set of questions based on their chosen topic (you might want to have some of the other kids help make a list). The team that answers the most correctly wins a prize – it could be home-made ribbon or trophy. This is a great game to help stress the importance of teamwork.

Story with Style

Pick a story with which all the children are familiar, such as “The Three Little Pigs”. Then ask the first child to pick a book style: choose from romance, adventure, thriller, autobiography etc. The group leader starts by telling the story as it is in the original – at least the first few scenes. The first child has to then continue in the style they have picked - which should change the story immensely.

As the action progresses and the story unfolds, all children should stick to the new style as much as possible – while keeping the characters as close to the original as possible. The idea is to develop a new slant on an old theme – and the results should be hilarious.

Watch the Story Grow

Here is a great game to encourage younger children to start writing stories on their own – and make them realise that it's not as easy as it sounds! Everyone gets a blank piece of paper, which they are asked to fold horizontally at least eight times. Have each person write the same short sentence on the top of the paper – something like “He loved to eat spaghetti, but one day his fork took on a life of its own and...”

The paper is then folded so that the line cannot be seen and passed to the person on the right. He or she will then write one sentence continuing the action, then fold and pass the paper again. When the paper is full and there is no more space, have fun reading the stories out loud to each other. A great game to improve not only writing skills but also team-building, creativity and a sense of pure silliness!

Brilliant Book Maker

This is fun yet deceptively simple. Give each child 20 small squares of paper and ask them to write five different nouns on five squares, five different adverbs, five different verbs and five different proper nouns. Mix the nouns, proper nouns etc in separate piles, then have each child pick from the pile so they have 20 different squares in all, five from each of the four categories. Then they have to start writing, using up every square.

If you really want to go to town, the children can make book bindings from cardboard and add illustrations to the stories so they are, in effect, creating their own books – with the help and word advice of their friends. What they come up could surprise you...

Pirate Pictionary

If you came to a foreign land where nobody spoke your language, how would you make yourself understood? Give the kids a list of pirate words – plank, hourglass, pirate, hook, treasure – and have them act them out with their hands.

For a slightly different take on the same theme, ask the children to choose characters from their favourite books and act them out. Harry Potter fans, for example, might choose the words wizard, Quidditch, Hogworts, Hedwig, prisoner. You can do the same with any book at all.

Children who adore books are lucky indeed, but any child can be encouraged to cultivate a love of reading. Hopefully, these games will both reinforce avid book-readers in your youth group, while helping entice those who aren't as literary to become more involved with the written word. In any case, everyone will have fun!

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