I seriously have so many children’s picture books and classic books around my house that I just had to box some up while we are doing our house addition. If we didn’t live in the country at the end of a dirt road, I’d set up a little free library.
This summer we dived into J.R. Tolkien for our family read-aloud. Really, Sam did all the reading. He read The Hobbit to the kids this summer. The kids would sit in the floor and draw pictures as Sam read.
The Hobbit book was broken up into three movies, so every time we got to a movie break in the book we would stop and watch the movie. I would always serve some kind of silly hobbit snack to go with the movie night. The first hobbit move night, I cut up one piece of cake into tiny little pieces and we had “hobbit” cake and we drank out of tiny tea cups. This took about 2 minutes to throw together but my kids would continue talking about it for week.
Lord of the Rings
After they finished The Hobbit, the kids begged Sam to go ahead and read The Fellowship of the Ring, which is the first book in The Lord of the Rings series. I always thought this read aloud would have been something we would’ve done when they were older because there are so many great discussion points. But we went ahead and read the series to them this year.
I’m so glad we did. They have had so much fun with it and the discussions have been serious, amusing, and hilarious, depending on the day.
I’m pretty sure there were even some tears shed on some of our read aloud nights.
One of the things that is important to me in this whole family life, motherhood gig is to build a family atmosphere that ties all of our heart strings together. To me, a lot of this happens by making memories together by being together and having shared experiences and setting the atmosphere for this to happen. I don’t mean it is forced, but more just an intentional plan and thought of creating a family atmosphere.
Expereicncing stories together is one on of the things that ties our hearts together and gives us a common ground for discussion and family inside jokes. The stories that we read to our kids at their current ages are the stories that they get to “live in” because they are still in the stage of playing together. They have been playing “Frodo and Gandolph” for the past couple of months. Most of their games, comments or jokes have something to do with parts of the story. The story even inspired one of their crafts for our 100 day party.
Family Movie Night
As we read each one of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, we would watch the movie as soon as we finished one.
Each book is fairly long, so when we made to the end of one, we made the “movie night” kind of a big deal at our house.
We would prepare special snacks and foods for the movie night. It was like a celebration!
These snacks weren’t anything super special and really didn’t take lots of extensive planning and they definitely aren’t “Pinterest” picture worthy as I just snapped a quick picture with my iPhone at night with horrible lighting. But I did snap a few pictures each time for the scrapbook.
After we finished The Fellowship of the Ring book we had a taco ring for dinner to represent “the ring”.
The kids thought this was hilarious. Then for dessert we threw a scoop of ice cream on top of a brownie and called it the snowy peak of the mountain Caradhras. We even threw in an “elven” cookie for fun.
After we finished the second book. We had parmesan tilapia for dinner and called it “Gollum’s Fishes” and made cookies for dessert and called them “Sauron’s eye”.
The third book snack was my favorite though. We made some “Lembas bread” and had some of it during the mid movie break and drank some “ale”. I had one of my boys run outside and grab some big leaves and we washed them and wrapped our bread in it. They were our “mallorn” leaves, but they were really sassafras leaves. (I think)
And because we liked our peaks of Caradhras for dessert so much, we repeated the brownies and ice cream for the Mountains of Moria again.
So we didn’t really do anything elaborate and it took very little planning. A couple of those were decided and thrown together about an hour before our movie night.
The kids are all sad that the adventure is over. I get it. It’s always a little sad when a good story ends especially one that took 3 months of living in after reading The Hobbit and all three books in The Lord of the Rings. But the hours the kids spent together listening to the story and then acting it out by playing together the next day will hopefully be one of the things that tie them together and build their camaraderie with all their shared experiences. Sharing stories together shapes our history, memories, conversation, and jokes that we share as a family. They have been asking what the next adventure quest will be!
I have so many books on my list that I want to share with them that the hardest part will be deciding where to go next. One of the hard parts is finding the time to do it all! I am still wanting to read all my favorite picture books to them over and over, read some girly classics to Riley alone for some girl time, read some boy adventure classics with Jack and Nathan for some boy time, plus they are both studying a different chapter books in our homeschool co-op that we are responsible for reading, plus we are reading Missionary Stories with the Millers at breakfast, plus our bible reading, plus all of our regular school reading.
But it’s all good, just one day at a time and one page at a time is the best I can do. The kids are in a sweet spot in their ages for read alouds, so whatever I choose there isn’t a bad choice. I just want to do it all!
One more thing, if you are interested in the Lembas bread recipe for a movie night, I posted it below. It only took a few minutes to throw together.
- 2½ cups Bread Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ⅔ cup heavy whipping cream (plus a couple of tablespoons)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Mis the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add the butter.
- I added the butter and used my Kitchen Aid to mix it all together.
- Mis until it looks like fine drums.
- Add the whipping cream, honey, and vanilla.
- Mix until a thick dough forms.
- Roll out the dough to ½ inch thickness.
- Use a butterknife to cut squares in the dough.
- I cut mine about 3 inches.
- Transfer to a cookie sheet.
- Make elven designs in each square.
- I used a knife and did criss cross patterns to resemble the Lembas bread.
- Do not cut through the dough.
- Bake about 12 minutes.
- Bread will be lightly golden.
- Let the bread dry completely before eating.
- Wrap the individual bread pieces in a big leaf.
- Wash the leaf first!
- You have a festive elven bread snack for a movie night!