Let the Games Begin

Simple games are a great way to get your group meeting off to a strong start. They break the ice, get everyone thinking about the book in new ways, and encourage everyone to get involved. If you make them part of your regular practice, they’re also a pleasant way to encourage recalcitrant readers to finish the book. Here are ten fun, easy games to try:

1. TRUTHS AND LIES

Mix five true statements with five false statements and have readers try to sort them out. The statements could be about the book itself, about the author’s life, or could be quotes from reviewers mixed with spurious quotes.

2. MADLIB TRUTHS AND LIES

Take ten quotes from the book, then change one word to something sneaky or silly. Players will try to identify which word has been changed, or in a tougher version, what the original word was. This is especially fun if the author uses a lot of metaphors or descriptive language.

3. POP QUIZ

Write some tough trivia questions based on the content of the book. Trivia themes might include Which Character Said? Which Character Did? Where Were They? or Who Wore the …?

4. SCAVENGER HUNT

Select some quotes, events, place names, or minor character names and have readers or teams race to locate their location in the book.

5. WORD SEARCH

Create a word search where the answers are names, places, or things mentioned in the book. For an extra challenge, don’t give out a word list, just tell your readers how many answers are hidden in the diagram.

6. QUOTE JUMBLE

Take quotes from around the book (you can use your favorite lines or the first lines from various chapters). With books put aside, have players or teams work to put the quotes in the correct reading order. You can also do this with events from the book.

7. CAST THE MOVIE

A good creative game is to select actors to play the roles of different characters in a hypothetical film adaptation. This can lead to more good conversation easily: What would be the hardest scene to film? What would you leave out of the film? Who should direct?

8. IN THE STYLE OF…

Another good creative game is to re-imagine the book, or to think of how the book would change, if written in the style of other famous authors, if re-worked for particular genres, or if made into a film by certain directors. Selecting song titles for a musical version of the book is a hoot.

9. ENTER THE…

What would happen if Scarlett O’Hara suddenly entered the book? Hannibal Lecter? Miss Marple? The cast of Gilligan’s Island? The variations of this simple game are endless.

10. TINY WRITING CONTESTS

If your crew is really creative, try having them compose short haiku, limericks, silly couplets, or acronyms (where the letters of a character name or the book title are used as the first letters of each line). My favorite tiny writing contest is to compose Fracture Fortune Cookies: silly fortunes that you would give to characters at the start of the book.

Use your creativity to come up with other games. Almost any popular party game can be adapted. You can play for honor or give out prizes: a copy of next month’s book, another book by this month’s author, food or drink, first choice of the group’s food or drink leftovers, or the honor of picking a future book or designing next month’s game.

I’d love to hear about other games that you’ve considered or that your group has tried. Any comments?

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About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

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