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We invited our daughter, Yolanda to submit an article for us. When we discovered it to be the subject of something fun we weren’t surprised.
–Editors 2003

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Our eggplant parmesan was not coming. My sister Sophia and I had just finished an evening performance in a youth orchestra. My parents thought it went well and for all our months of hard work and practice were treating us to a meal at an Italian restaurant. While we were waiting—and to keep our minds off how hungry we were—Sophia and I reviewed the experiences of the day. I mentioned how funny it was when the young cellist sitting beside me in the orchestra had almost fallen backwards for the grand finale. Thankfully neither cello nor cellist had crashed and gotten anything broken!
     One of our stomach’s growled in anticipation as an approaching waiter carried a heavy tray of food toward us. It looked like it might be our eggplant. But he passed our table. Our heads turned as all eyes followed him. There was a momentary silence all but for a sigh. Then my mom piped up, “While we're waiting for our food, let's try something. Let’s each name a character from a story. We’ll see who can guess the title of the book where the character is found. You might not want to say the main character. That would be too easy."
     Taking turns these are some of the characters we came up with:

Mr. Pumblechook...................Great Expectations
Biddy......................................Great Expectations
Mr. Collins..............................Pride and Prejudice
Balin.......................................The Hobbit
Uria Heap...............................David Copperfield
Friday.....................................Robinson Crusoe
Ginger.....................................Black Beauty
Reepicheep.............................Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Mr. Rochester.........................Jane Eyre
Fritz........................................Swiss Family Robinson
Paspatoo.................................Around the World in Eighty Days

     This new literature game forced me think back on all the stories I had read throughout my years of homeschooling. Good books of various kinds and stories have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My parents have always had a “read-aloud” started and then there are those we read on our own. The only problem is that not only does my older sister, Sophia, read faster, she also has read almost all the books I've read and tons more so she can guess the titles more easily than I can. I didn’t lament on this long, however, because our dishes had finally arrived hot and tomato saucey.
home schooling     It was some months later on my brother Nigel's twelfth birthday, when we were all eating cake, that my mom brought up the literature game again. After playing a few rounds of the game we, and our company, started talking about some of the favorite books we had read. My friend, Garet, recommended a book that he said I would like. It was Black Arrow by Robert Lewis Stevenson. I borrowed it from the public library shortly afterwards. He was right. It is the kind of book that interests me. It was written with some “Olde” English vocabulary, with "Thee and Thou" and is filled with knights on horseback, bows and arrows, secret passages, and of course, a damsel in distress—and a strong brave young man who is the hero of the story. I will tell you the truth: I never finished it! I only had a bit left, but I had to return it to the library. I never got around to finishing it during the rigors of blueberry raking season in Maine. (Anyone who has raked blueberries knows how consuming this is.) Soon with September upon us I had to start homeschool—and my attention was redirected to our new schedule.
     I would like to finish reading Black Arrow. Then when we play our literary game again I'll have another book full of characters to choose from - especially as it is one book that Sophia hasn't read yet!

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(This paragraph was added a year later)

More Literary Games

homeschoolingLast night eleven of my homeschool friends came over for a summer evening barbecue. When it got dark and the bugs were bolder, we retreated into the house and crowed into the living room. My mom gathered a large basket full of books she had selected from our never-ending supply of them. We divided ourselves into two teams to play what we call, “First Lines.” My mom and dad took turns reading aloud the first few lines of a book. (The books were hidden from view.) If we had too puzzled an expression on our faces they would keep reading until they reached the end of a whole paragraph. Each team would listen to the first lines and anyone on the team who knew the book would say the title—earning the team a point. If no one on the team could guess correctly the title the other team would get a turn at guessing it. To recognize the title of a book by its first line will sometimes be surprisingly easy, other times not so easy.
     “Last Lines” is another literary game and so is, “Who Said This?” which is a clever way to recall characters. It will require a little more preparation to search ahead for quotations, but I’ve always had fun with this one. A few years ago my mom used “Who Said This?” at the end of a Shakespeare play we were studying. This guessing game will work well at the end of whatever play you may read aloud.
     These games can be made as easy or as challenging as you like for people whose literary knowledge varies from Goodnight Moon to the works of Plato.