By Trix Wilkins
You’ve read Little Women before. Perhaps you read it every year, and you’re thinking of mixing it up a bit this time. Or maybe you’ve never read Little Women and you’re wondering how do you read a book other than, well, reading it?
Here are some ideas for reading Little Women this Christmas…
1 Read then walk (as in, the March sisters’ shoes)
Read a chapter, then do one thing the sisters did in that chapter! Housework and writing a will are things they did but perhaps something more along the lines of: treat your neighbors to a Christmas breakfast (Ch 1), dance in something “not fit to be seen” (Ch 3), play ‘Authors’ around the dinner table (Ch 12)…
Courtesy of Columbia Pictures (1994)
2 Friends. Outfits. And your very own Acting Society.
Read the novel out loud with friends, and assign parts to different ‘actors’ (eg: narrator, Jo, Beth, etc). While the narrator is talking, the others silently play out what’s happening while the narrator tries not to laugh (like that part about Aunt March and the suitor and the bird with the wig – why is that not in a movie…).
Variant: Dress the part! Here’s an excuse to get a sword and boots like Jo. Or paint your own shoes like Amy. Or put fresh flowers over your dress like Meg. And ask your partner to dress like this:
3 Check out Jo March’s descendants 100 years later
This is for all who have wondered what Jo March’s descendants might have been like if she had been a real historical figure, and had kids who had kids who had kids…
Read all four books of the Little Women series. Then read The Little Women Letters for the “to be continued” in the 21st century. (This is my favorite Little Women inspired novel so far :))
4 Read a page, color a page
5 …while you’re at it, make your own artsy edition
Little Women is now in the public domain, so if you’re keen to own one that features your own artwork (or at least artwork that you’ve chosen yourself), you could print out a personal copy with said art inserted between the text. Draw/sketch your own pics as you read, then color in. Design your own page using some favorite quotes/scenes. Commission art through a company such as Pixel Berry Pie Designs .
6 Some serious mother-and-daughter moments
Marmee & Louisa: the untold story of Louisa May Alcott and her mother would be great to explore alongside Little Women for mother-daughter reading groups (or if you’re simply reading with your own daughter or another special little girl in your life).
You don’t even have to think of your own discussion questions – they’re already online! (Thank you Eve LaPlante :))
7 Don’t read it, just listen, please!
This is one for all of us who have long work commutes (eg: all of Sydney), feed babies, exercise, and/or otherwise time poor. Listen to an audio book.
Variant: If you know someone who likes reading out loud, ask them to record themselves and you can listen to it in the car (and/or you can hire someone you want to help out financially to do it).
8 Why read just one book when you could read sixty-six?
Pair with Susan Bailey’s Little Women devotional (it’s got passages from Little Women and the Bible side by side). Read it and the Bible leading up to Christmas. Pray after each section. Write down any insights and ideas and share with others.
Variant: If you’re already in a Bible study (or thinking about forming one), you could study the passages in their biblical and historical context. The devotional doesn’t contain discussion questions so you’re free as a group to make your own.
9 Bake, read, eat. Repeat.
I am not entirely sure how this French chocolate recipe relates to Little Women – but it has Little Women in the title, it’s chocolate, so that’s good enough for me! (Credit for this idea must go to my lovely friend Sussan, who hosts baking nights every month. =D)
Variant: If you don’t like the thought of blancmange, turnovers and other foods in the novel, you can opt for French goodies. Nice is in the novel. Nice is in France. Therefore baguettes and macarons are defensible as part of a genuine Little Women reading experience. Or pink and white ice cream. Or both…
10 Stop and switch before the ending
This one is for fans of Beth and shippers of Jo and Laurie. (And/or for all who stopped reading Little Women at the chapter “Heartache” or when Laurie gets to Europe.)
Read all of Little Women Part 1. Read the first eight chapters of Part 2 (Good Wives). Then switch to The Courtship of Jo March for a different ending for all the March sisters.