Family Read Alouds, Raising Readers, Read-alongs, Reading Guides, Reflections, Resources, Series Posts
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Hobbits, Hot Chocolate, & The Bookshelf Giveaway

The Hobbit Read Along

Two weeks from today on Monday, November 5th, our Great Hobbit Read Along Adventure begins!  We’ll cover two or three chapters of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien each week for five weeks, ending the first week of December, just before the release of the movie version by Peter Jackson.  We hope it will be an exciting adventure for individuals, families and youth groups who choose to join us, with insights from a number of Christian authors and cultural commentators to help you get more from your reading.

Don’t have time for a read along right now?  That’s ok, too.  We think you’ll still enjoy the insights from our guests.  And you can always have your own read along later!  So what sort of adventures will we get into?  Here’s a sneak peek:

  • Worldview/Theological Insight: Jim Ware, author of Finding God in the Hobbit (as well as numerous Adventures in Odyssey for kids), will join us with stories from Tolkien’s life and thought, as well as insights into the story itself and how Tolkien’s Christian worldview informs it.
  • Guest #1: John Erickson on Reading Aloud.  Author of the Hank the Cowdog series for kids has narrated his own audiobooks for years now, which he says is the most natural medium for his stories.  Over seven million parents and kids agree, making his CDs staples among many homeschoolers and other Christian families today.  (One mom told me recently that while listening to one of his audiobooks in her car, she laughed so hard she had to pull over.  He’s THAT good.)  In our first week, he’ll share some secrets to reading aloud, including how you can create memorable characters just using your voice, as well as some simple props that can go a long way.
  • Week #1 Contest: Radio Theater for Kids: Using John’s insights about reading aloud, you and your kids are invited to record a page or two reading aloud.  Try out a scary Smaug voice or a goofy troll voice, and we’ll let our readers pick the best ones!  And the prize?  (There has to be a prize, of course.)  How bout a copy of one of John Erickson’s audiobooks?  And maybe more on top of that!
  • Hobbit-ize Your Dad: Ever wondered what your dad or brother would look like if they were a hobbit?  Or maybe a troll?  We hope to give away a free caricature to one reader, in which you can choose one of the Hobbit characters and have yourself or a loved one drawn in that style.  And if you don’t win, you can still purchase them from our caricature artist to create some unique Christmas gifts.  (For instance, my daughter says she wants to hobbit-ize our cats….)

And that’s just the tip of the ice berg!

The Hot Chocolate Adventure

One of the most enjoyable aspects of a family read along, as Douglas Bond will mention later this week in his interview, is sharing a sweet or salty snack together.  Toward that end, I thought it would be fun to share some fantastic recipes for hot chocolate with each other.  (Be sure to scrounge up your family favorite to share with us later!)

It turns out that hot chocolate is a perfect fit for our Hobbit’s tale, since it’s had quite an amazing adventure itself to make it to our tables.  For instance, did you know that hot chocolate first appeared in the ancient Mayan culture of Central America, and that it was adopted by Spanish conquistadors who introduced it into European culture (despite the fact that they didn’t use any sugar at all with the drink, yikes!).  Today, hot chocolate is still a traditional drink in Mexico, though usually without the Mayan flare (i.e. chiles).

I thought that each week we could try some new kid-friendly hot chocolate recipe.  I’ve drawn the first recipe below from the blog of David Lebovitz, a Parisian chef and writer, and the second from Beatriz, as a Hispanic friend of mine who grew up in Mexico.  Why not stock up on some dark chocolate, sugar and heavy cream/half and half at the store this week to prepare?  (I won’t tell if you start your taste-bud adventure this week!)

Mexican Hot Chocolate

2 cups whole milk

4 Tbsp cocoa powder

3 oz. sweet chocolate bar

optional: 1/4 tsp chile powder or 1 stick cinnamon

Directions: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk with the cocoa powder and salt, whisking constantly until it comes to a full boil.  Add cinnamon stick or chile powder if desired.  Remove from heat and add the chocolate, whisking gently until it’s completely melted.

If you don’t have time to make it from scratch, here’s a store bought version that will get you out of your comfort zone…just like our hobbit hero.

The Pre-made Version

At your local grocery story, check the Hispanic foods section for Abuelita hot chocolate tablets made by Nestle.  (My friend says she gets them at Publix and they have an old woman on the front.)  It also comes in a powder, but she doesnt like these as much.  To make, mix 1 cups of water, 3 cups of milk, and one tablet in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil until chocolate is melted.  It will be “really chocolatey”, so you might want to eat it like she and her brothers and sisters do–with a very plain bread (maybe a scone for those with a sweet tooth?) dipped in the chocolate.  I expect you could also add a little sugar to give it a kick.

The Bookshelf Giveaway Soiree

To wrap up our Library Month and start The Hobbit Read Along, we’d like to give someone a new shelf of kids’ books!  We’ve gathered up more than 20 great kids’ books and we’ll put them in several winners hands on November 5th, at 7 pm.  Not only can you win books, but you can try out one of our hot chocolate recipes and meet other folks who’ll be doing the read along with you.  CLICK HERE to like this Facebook event and find out more!

Would you like to be added to a Hobbit Read Along email list?  Just leave us a note saying so in the comments below.  We’ll email you each week with the read along materials, just in case you miss them!  You’ll automatically be added to the Bookshelf Giveaway, and you won’t have to be present to win!  And if you’d like to get started already, here is Week One!

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  1. What a lot of fun things planned! It’s enough reason to look forward to November, which from a Wisconsin perspective is hardly a month to look forward to!

  2. Emily says

    Thanks Hayley! I’m really looking forward to it too! So glad you’ll be reading with us.

  3. Nicole says

    I was planning on reading this anyway in preparation for the movie release! Can’t wait to read along!

  4. It’s no surprise to me that I’m so out of touch with movies that I had no idea that The Hobbit was about to come out, but BOY am I excited! That was one of my favorite books as a kid! This is going to be fun!!!

  5. Pat in TX says

    Hmmm, looks like our family may have to amend our typical hot chocolate season for this! On the other hand, if the temps don’t fall below 80 degrees soon, maybe not:-) Eiher way, please sign us up for The Hobbit read-along email list. Tolkien is a family favorite!!

  6. Mary Kelly Branning says

    Would love to be on the Hobbit reading list. My 6th grade class is about to start reading it together!

  7. Celeste says

    I met you at the wonderful Pilgrim’s Progress event in Hartsville! My family is eagerly looking forward to the Hobbit read-along. Please add us to the email list.

  8. Yes, please add me. We need to re-read The Hobbit before the movie comes out and since our rainy weather started this week, we’ve already started drinking hot chocolate (and hot tea & spiced cider…) so we’re all ready to participate. This read along & your guests will make (re)reading The Hobbit even more fun.

  9. Chris says

    I’m really happy to see that you are planning a Hobbit read along. I was just talking to my son about how, since it was still a little challenging for him to read on his own we would read it together. Now, I’ll wait until this starts up in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to it.

  10. Oh, add me to the list! I’m definitely going to be reading it again before the movie and I might as well follow along. 🙂

  11. Please add me to the email list. This is a great idea and I think my oldest daughter is just now old enough to introduce her to The Hobbit!

  12. Harmony says

    Yes, please add me to the list! We’re completely new to the Hobbit so this will be quite the adventure 🙂

  13. This will be fun! I just this week started listening to the audiobook of The Hobbit read by Rob Inglis — he does a marvelous job with all the voices and even sings the songs. I’d love to be on your read-along e-mail list.

  14. Angela says

    I would love to be added to the Hobbit e-mail list. I’ve been wanting to read it before the movie came out, and this is the perfect way to get started!!

  15. Laura Caldwell says

    Definitely in for the read. I’ll probably be drinking chai latte instead of hot chocolate though.

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  17. Stuart says

    I’d love to receive the Hobbit read-along by email. I will be teaching it next semester to grade 8 for the first time, and any insights would be great (like the book mentioned above, Finding God in the Hobbit–thanks!).

  18. Tiffany says

    I just dusted off our copy of The Hobbitt for my husband & I to read prior to the release! Please add us to the list! Thanks.

  19. Mary Ann says

    Love The Hobbit and love hot chocolate. Too bad my children are all grown up and moved away! Nevertheless, please include me; I’d love to read along.

  20. Marion Erickson says

    Please add me the list as well. I’m excited about starting the Hobbit adventure.

  21. lauren smith says

    please include me too. I started reading this book last month to my son. I can’t wait to read the insights from others.

  22. Kathy Snyder says

    We are looking forward to the movie, and were planning to re-read the book. Reading the book with others and sharing insights (and hot chocolate!) sounds great!

  23. Deb Hiffernan says

    It’s been a while since I read this with my daughters so I’m adding it to my AutumnWinter reading list. Looking forward to reading along,

  24. Cathy says

    Please add us to the Hobbit read along. We’re new to this; please help us understand how we need to prepare. Thanks a bunch!

  25. My husband just started reading The Hobbit to our children on a car trip. Please add me to the email list for this read-along 🙂

  26. I’ve already read this book a few times, but wouldn’t mind reading it again! Add me please!

  27. Linda Bronkar says

    Please add the Bronkar family to your list. Thank you so much. 🙂

  28. Kathy says

    I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read The Hobbit (or any of the LOTR books), and I’d like to be included in this reading group

  29. Robyn says

    Please add my family to the list! This is such a great book and will be great movies!

  30. LeeAnn Cheeley says

    I have never read this & have 7 kids who have all read it, so I’m in. pLease email me the details. thanks!

  31. Please add me to The Hobbit read-along. I’m currently reading it and look forward to all the added discussion!

  32. Emily says

    Deeply humbled by all your responses, and I’m so thrilled we get to read such a rich book together! Can’t wait to get started in just over a week!

  33. fourkidsandmum says

    Please add us too! We’ve been reading it ourselves, but are only a few chapters in and it sounds like so much fun to join in with you all.

  34. Mary Bishop says

    How does the read-along work? We are in hobbitland (new Zealand) and were wondering about the time difference. Thanks.

    • Emily says


      Thanks for your question! I can see your concern. But we won’t have too many real-time events. By putting your name in here, you’re already entered to win the prizes at the Bookshelf Giveaway. We’re planning to hold that at 7pm Central Time in America, and if you can figure out the time difference, you’re welcome to join us if it isn’t the middle of the night there! As for the rest of the Read Along, most of our discussions will be via comments (which you can leave anytime). We will have some contests, too, but they will take place over the course of a week or two, so you should have plenty of time to participate in them.

      Hope that helps!

  35. Natalie says

    I’d like to try this, even though I’m busy this fall! 🙂 Please sign me up! natalieroth (at) windstream (dot) net.

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  37. Jenni says

    I’d like to read-along with our kids.

    I’ve never read it, but my husband is a huge fan.

  38. Donna says

    Sounds like a lot of fun! I haven’t read it before but my husband has and our pastor has encouraged us to read it as well! 🙂 I work nights,..but I’ll try to keep up!

  39. I am neither a parent nor a youth (nor a child)–may I still be included? If it helps at all, I can produce substantial evidence (both documentary and testimonial) that I am young at heart …

  40. Elsie says

    Count me in! I’m hoping to motivate my little brother as well. 🙂 Great idea!

  41. Josh Bishop says

    Unfortunately, my kids are a bit too young for The Hobbit. But I’m not, and I’ll be joining without them. Please add me to the list!

  42. Dean Steele says

    This sounds wonderful. I truly loved the Hobbit the two previous times I read it. I hope my children do too. Please add us to the list.

  43. Pam J says

    Sounds like fun! Please add me to the Hobbit e-mail list and the give away!

  44. Emily says

    Hey guys! I just scheduled the first Hobbit Read Along email to hit your emails Thursday morning, Central time. Our sweet intern, Nathan, and I had to enter all these emails in by hand, though, so please let us know if you don’t receive yours. We double-checked, but I suspect there may still be one or two mistakes. (Hopefully, next time we’ll find a way to do this automatically! Until then, thanks for bearing with us.)

  45. We’d like to join the read along for The Hobbit…hope we’re not too late!

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