Illustration of "Brianna's Book Stop" by Jeffrey Duckworth / Book Cover for WHERE DO DIGGERS SLEEP AT NIGHT? (on the bookmobile) by Christian Slade

Monday, September 16, 2013

Going Beyond the Book!

Building our own "Magic School Bus"
was one recent fun project around here!
Happy Monday or, as I like to call it around here, Keep Reading Fun Day! I love reading to kids and I love reading with kids. But today I want to talk about how wonderful it can be in those special times when our shared reading experiences become so powerful that we actually go beyond the book.

A simple example of this could be seeing a movie or a play of the book we just watched. This is always fun! We loved seeing the movie of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Gene Wilder Version) and I am looking forward to taking my son to JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH at Seattle Children's Theater later on this year.

But today I wanted to share some fun examples that go even further. Ways in which we have lived the books we love:


In our case, my son was inspired to build the magic school bus. This became a team project with Daddy. They took several huge cardboard boxes and built one awesome magic school bus. This facilitated wonderful dramatic play opportunities. It was such fun for him to actually be in the bus!


We had the fun of doing this recently for my son's birthday. He wanted a Boxcar Children party. After my initial wondering-- "How in the world are we going to do that?!?!"-- we ended up having a great party. My son helped me create the beginning of a mystery and named several possible suspects. Then he left it up to me to plant clues (including several false herrings). Our house became Greenfield, Connecticut-- home of the Boxcar Children. Our Dining Room became Cook's Diner. And our living room got a (cardboard) statue of Josiah Wade (a revolutionary war hero from one of the Boxcar Children books we had read).

My husband worried that the other kids wouldn't get it-- but luckily almost all the guests were fans too. All but one child who arrived at the party knew exactly which of the Boxcar Children he or she was. (It was an extremely small party and we had 3 Bennys. :o) )

The little stuffed white dog we pretended was Watch was extremely popular with all the kids. And my son was so excited to cook the recipe for Benny's Birthday Cake from THE BOXCAR CHILDREN COOK BOOK (which is actually quite delicious!).

In the end, the kids solved the mystery and my son and his friends had a ball living one of their favorite books!


One more way in which we have gone beyond the book is when my son has written a story very inspired by one he is reading. When he was little he wrote a very detailed story called "How Matzah is Made" I am sure was very inspired by one of Richard Scarry's wonderful Busy Town stories "How Bread is Made".

And recently he has completed the first chapter of Nancy Drew #65. (The story list in our book stopped at #64 so he is trying to write the next one.) It is fun to see how he is taking the characters and suspenseful writing style of a Nancy Drew novel and imitating it in his own writing.

Going beyond the book can definitely be fun! Especially with a well-loved favorite!

Do you and your kids (or students) ever go beyond the book? How? 


  1. I have always loved acting out scenes from a book. I like the rest of your suggestions also.

  2. Acting out scenes from a book sounds awesome Mirka! We will definitely have to try that around here. (I used to use acting as one way to help my students with reading comprehension. Thanks so much for the reminder!)