Saturday, July 25, 2015

Superhero Story Time

It was Superhero Week at a local Cub Scout Day Camp and I was asked to read picture books for 45 minutes to entertain over 100 Cub Scouts and volunteers after lunchtime. I was excited for the opportunity, yet I was a little nervous.

I was nervous because I didn't have any "superhero story time" material.

Second, I know very little about superheroes. I didn't read comic books when I was younger and I didn't learn the names of many of the fictional characters until I had children of my own.

Lastly, I had always thought "Superhero Story Time" implied reading stories about the Marvel or DC Comics superhero characters. I was worried the boys would be disappointed when I didn't read books about Superman, Batman, or Spiderman.

It was going to be a challenge. But, I was determined to pick the perfect picture books without deviating too far from the superhero theme.

I knew of one book, Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom by John Rocco, that I thought could work. I love the book. It does not have traditional superheroes but it has four kids who think they get superpowers from their long hair. They perform some pretty awesome stunts and tricks until the day they each get a haircut.

I searched and searched for other books like Super Hair-o, but I came up empty with the books I requested from the library and with the books from my own collection. I couldn't find anything I really liked.

So, I reread Super Hair-o a few times. The four long-haired friends reminded me of the "The Fantastic Four". This must of popped into my head because of the new movie set to open in August 2015. I wondered if there were other recent or upcoming superhero movies that could help me make a connection to a picture book. Two movies got me thinking -- ANT MAN (2015) and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)!

I thought there must a cool book about ants I could read. I searched and found The Ant Bully by John Nickle. Then, I thought about GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY which reminded me of the Guardians of Childhood series by William Joyce.

Superhero Story Time - via www.ericvr.com
It wasn't hard to find the books once I had the idea to connect the books to the Superhero movies. The books I would read for Superhero Story Time would be  Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom by John Rocco, The Ant Bully by John Nickle, and The Man in the Moon by William Joyce.
I spent the next few weeks thinking about how to bring the books to life with props and audience participation. I bought wigs and made capes for Super Hair-O. I collected many props and made a few more for The Man in the Moon including a double-sided moon prop, and a cool propeller hat for The Ant Bully.


Everything was ready, I felt good about my plan for Superhero Story Time, but I was still a little nervous the day of the event. Would everything work out the way it was in my head?

The first book I read was Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom. I invited four boys to come up in front of the audience. I gave them red-white-and-blue superhero wigs to wear. When I read about the "fantastic four" kids in the book getting haircuts and losing their superpowers I pretended to cut the boys' wig-hair too. I stripped them of their super powers but they were still able to save the day with the capes I made out of t-shirts. (Click here for directions on how to make t-shirt capes). The boys did a great job acting out the story!

Fantastic Four T-shirt Capes
Homemade Fantastic Four Capes!
Next, I read The Man in the Moon. I knew this book was going to be a challenge because of its length. I told the audience that it could be the most epic story I have ever told if I had their help. Everyone would have a part in acting out the book as I read; some would have small parts, some would have bigger parts, some would have parts that show up only in the beginning and the end. My plan was to have everyone involved and to have lots of props to engage the whole crowd.

SuperHero Story Time via www.ericvr.com
The Guardians of the Galaxy inspired The Guardians of Childhood: The Man in the Moon.
SuperHero Story Time via www.ericvr.com
This SuperMan thinks he is a SuperReader.
SuperHero Story Time via www.ericvr.com
In the book, William Joyce tells us that The Guardians of Childhood are The Man in the Moon, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, the Easter Bunny, Mother Goose, and more. I asked, "Who wants to be the Sandman and hold my Special Emergency Dream Kit full of moon/dream sand?"
MiM from THE MAN IN THE MOON by William Joyce
Here is the little Man in the Moon, aka MiM. My daughter was a little reluctant to let me use him for the storytelling. I think he looks great!
THE MAN IN THE MOON - Superhero Story Time via www.ericvr.com
A huge thank you to the boys and adults who helped with the story! You did an awesome job bringing the story to life!
THE MAN IN THE MOON - Superhero Story Time via www.ericvr.com
In this photo, I was reading the dialogue of Pitch: the King of Nightmares. The boy in the green shirt and black cape played the part of Pitch. He did a great job looking mean!
THE MAN IN THE MOON - Superhero Story Time via www.ericvr.com
At the end of the book, the moon was bright and smiling. The children of Earth would no longer need to feel scared of the dark.
THE ANT BULLY - Superhero Story Time via www.ericvr.com
The last book I read was The Ant Bully. My wife helped me make my own propeller hat just like Lucas in the book. 
THE ANT BULLY - Superhero Story Time via www.ericvr.com
Many of the kids told me this book was there favorite book. Maybe it was because they were all talking about the ANT MAN movie that was just released, or maybe it was because I squirted them with water at the end of my presentation just like Lucas did to the ants in the book.
Whew! Superhero storytelling was a success! I don't know why I was so nervous. I didn't have any Superhero Story Time material, but I do now!

Thank you to The Boy Scouts of America for the opportunity to read at your day camp. It was a blast. The boys were very well-behaved and enthusiastic!

I would love to come read picture books at your school, library, or local event. My rates are very responsible. Check out my "school/storytelling visits" page for more information.

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