Friday, March 13, 2009

Storybook Tea Party

Invitations fashioned to look like little books -- complete with bookmarks -- invited my children to The Storybook Tea Party. I folded an 8-inch square piece of two-sided card stock in half to make the book cover, and printed the text that follows on paper cut down to 4-inches by 8-inches.

Once upon a time, there were four children named Carson, Christian, Mary Ashley and Emma. Their mother invited them to dress up like favorite storybook characters and join her for a tea party at the edge of an enchanted forest.

Eager to experience the magic of story time, the children donned costumes and gathered their favorite books for a delightful afternoon of reading together.

The whole family piled onto a favorite quilt, enjoying the mild spring weather and dappled afternoon sunlight. Surrounded by good books, tasty nibbles and the ones they hold dear, the children learned that the best way to lose yourself – and find yourself – is in a good book.

Our springlike weather was perfect for yesterday's outdoor tea party. My late grandmother's Desert Rose china suited our gathering at the edge of the woods, and fresh tulips clustered in crystal vases added flashes of color to the setting. A wooden bin sat ready with a selection of favorite books, and the clear blue sky invited us to lounge for hours. A simple menu of "berry good book" scones and almond cream, cheese cubes, fresh strawberries and a pot of fruity herbal tea was perfect for a relaxing afternoon.

A favorite quilt made a great lounging spot, especially with a cluster of pillows piled around the edge. A small wooden table held tea time favorites, and a stack of books held a wicker tray of treats. All our storybook setting needed was a cast of characters.

And what a varied group we entertained -- among them an athlete, a superhero, a princess and a pinkalicious ballerina! I donned a bandanna and apron to serve tea, and the children guessed right away that I was Cinderella.

To commemorate our special afternoon of reading, I gave each child a journal for writing their own stories.

I found this colorful four-pack of notebooks at Wal-Mart and printed little nameplates on card stock and glued them to the front. You could also use this idea to make custom bookplates when giving books as gifts or party favors.

Five-year-old Mary Ashley has already been carrying her open journal around, pretending to read from the empty pages as she relates the events of our storybook tea party in vivid detail. So maybe one day she will fill its pages with beautiful stories of her own.

As long as our family has the opportunity to gather around a good book, we can all expect to learn, grow and dream together as we live happily ever after.

"A book reads the better which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we know the topography of its blots, and dog's ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins." -- Charles Lamb, 1833

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