We take Hollywood to a whole new level during summer vacation (which is just around the corner). We let everyone be an “Official” Critic when it comes to watching movies based on our books.
A large number of box-office-movies are being adapted from fantasy novels these days. We use this to our advantage by reading a fantasy book out loud together, before watching the book brought to life on screen. My husband and I have read books out loud to each other before (it happens “once in a blue moon”), and we decided to force the kids to have fun with us too.
Finding a Book/Movie Combination
It was a challenge to find a story that most of us would be interested in, although we are all fans of the fantasy genre. In the end, the younger two boys were left out (Number 6 got to babysit Number 7 in their bedroom).
The first book we researched and choose was The Last Apprentice (“Seventh Son” in theaters); the kids reported their favorite part of the movie was “popcorn”, but I know we all enjoyed it. The following summer we read Dragons of Autumn Twilight . This book was made into an animated film some years back (we own the DVD), so we saved on popcorn & movie tickets. The kids “critique” the book and movie, then rate them individually. I keep the Critic paperwork in a folder on the same shelf as our photo albums.
Fitting Reading into our Schedule
Reading together as a family is mostly fun. We read at least one chapter each afternoon together (schedule permitting of course). The hard part was dragging the kids away from what they were absorbed in when it came time to read. Usually, they quieted enough to allow the reader to be heard, but sometimes… how I longed for duct tape to be legalized. It was a challenge to not send the trouble makers away, but that’s exactly what they wanted. Eventually we’d get everyone to transition into reading.
We let different people read parts of the chapter to reduce the number of participants lost in spontaneous napping (you know, after we finally got them to close their mouths). My husband insists on us all using different “voices” (pitches and accents) for different characters. He got used to this while listening to audio books (especially if they are read by Michael Kramer & Kate Reading). A couple of the kids are pretty good at this. You might be surprised to find some of your kids have a flair for the dramatic as well!
Thinking Like a Critic
When we are not reading, we find ways to fit the book into our conversations. We might ask the older kids if they have noticed any foreshadowing. The questions we ask the younger kids mainly concern keeping characters or timelines straight. We tell them to look for the deeper meaning, and to think about what the writer is trying to say. These conversations help the kids think critically about what they are reading, so they can be a better critic.