Inspired by Zoe at Playing by the Book, I decided to mark International Book-Giving Day in a couple of ways. Firstly, to give my little book bugs a new book each (any excuse is good, and I'd had a couple hidden away in the cupboard since our last trip to the UK that I was dying to give them!) For MBug, George and the Dragon by George Wormell, and for LBug, Alfie's Feet by Shirley Hughes.
More about those another day...
Secondly, I wanted to get some friends involved and celebrate such a great day with them. Here in Catalonia, St George's Day, 23rd April, is the day of the book and of loved ones, but again, any excuse is good to get together and give or share books, so we made a treasure hunt for our little ones to find books we'd hidden around the house and garden.
Our children range in age from 1 to almost 5, and they'd never done anything like this before, so we didn't want anything too complicated (emphasis on fun and sharing books rather than complicated rules)...
Each family chose a book that they wanted to show and share with their friends, and brought it to me in advance. We then marked a couple of pages that could be read in isolation in a short space of time to give a sense of what the book was like. Each book was then marked with a coloured sticker allocating it to a particular team, three books for each team.
The children were divided into teams of four, with a mix of older and younger ones, and each team named after a colour. The teams had to follow the arrows corresponding to their team's colour that led them around the house and garden to find the books that we'd hidden under and in the sofa, behind a bookshelf, in the wendy house, under a bush, etc. etc. They could only take a book from its hiding place if it was marked with their own team's colour.
Every time they found a book they had to take it to an adult who read them the previously marked section.
When they'd listened to that piece they could go and find the next book, which they took to an adult to have it read to them.
And so on till they'd found all three of their books. And then we all sat down and looked at all the books they'd found, read some from start to finish, claimed ownership (VERY important!), and talked about why we liked them, etc.
The idea had been to ask the teams questions about the books at the end of the treasure hunt to win stickers (for everyone, non competitive!!!) and see how much they could remember of the extracts they'd heard, but we found it unnecessary in the end because we were having such a good time just sharing the books. Another plan had been to go home with someone else's book rather than your own, if only for a temporary swap, but that didn't work either! I think each child was so proud of their own book after sharing it with their friends that they got proprietorial and didn't want to lend it out!
It was great fun, and us grown ups were really pleased at the way it turned out. We thought it might be an organisational disaster, with one or two kids finding all the books, ignoring the coloured stickers, not taking them to the adults to be read, or not being interested in the reading, just the hunting and finding, but it worked really well. The children knew more or less what would be going on when they arrived and were desperate to find the books. In fact, they spent a good 20 minutes tearing around the house looking for them as soon as they arrived, a fact which we'd luckily anticipated, and we hadn't actually hidden any books yet! While I explained the rules of play, one of the other mums went round hiding the books to be ready for when the children were. It really was a great experience for all of us, and we're already talking about what and how we're going to do it next year!
The books we shared:
Mouse Tales, Arnold Lobel
Pumpkin Soup, Helen Cooper
I Spy (literal translation of title in Spanish, not sure of original title, will get onto it...) David Carter
If you give a Mouse a Cookie, Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond
The Way Back Home, Oliver Jeffers
La Florentina cerca un Tresor (not pub in English, orig German Lieselotte sucht einen Schatz), Alexander Steffensmeier
Dippy's Sleepover, Jane Clarke & Mary McQuillan
Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Really Big Adventure, Kristina Stephenson
And, not to forget that it was Valentine's Day too (not celebrated much in Catalonia), I made some heart shaped Rice Crispie cakes!