Welcome to the sixth installment of Brightly’s Book Club for Kids, where we help young readers find fabulous stories to enjoy together as a group! This month’s book is big — and we mean big! The BFG, by Roald Dahl, is huge on charm, laughs, suspense, and heart. From the very first page, you’ll be captivated by an unexpectedly sensitive giant, a brave young girl, and an adventure you’ll never forget.
This Month’s Selection
Best For: Kids ages 8 – 12.
What It’s About: The BFG is a classic from the man who brought us James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Filled with imaginative characters, unlikely settings, and a fine balance of fright and whimsy, The BFG tells the story of a young girl named Sophie, who is kidnapped one night from her orphanage and taken to the land of giants. Sophie is rightly terrified, as the giants’ particular eating habits include snacking on children, but, thankfully, Sophie’s captor is the Big Friendly Giant (BFG for short), the only vegetarian of his kind. Together, the BFG and Sophie concoct a dangerous and ingenious plan (with a little help from the Queen of England) to stop the giants from their nightly rampages on “human beans”.
Major Themes: Friendship, bravery, staying true to oneself, the importance of dreams, and the magic of things unseen.
Why We Picked It: Readers of all ages will be enchanted by Sophie’s bravery, the BFG’s heart, and the magical world of dreams. Roald Dahl’s stunning classic still feels fresh, relevant, and captivating — and film director Steven Spielberg must agree with us, because he’s bringing the book to life in the movie adaptation of The BFG, which hits theaters July 1. It’s also the Queen’s 90th birthday this year, so reading this perfectly British tale is a great way to celebrate her stalwart sense of duty in the (fictional) face of war, castle fires, and, of course, giant attacks.
A Word of Caution for Sensitive Readers: The main character is an orphan who is kidnapped in the middle of the night, children and adults are eaten by giants, and the BFG is frequently bullied by other giants.
Suggestions for Younger Readers: Too young to read The BFG? Pick up one of these enormously entertaining books about giants instead:
What You’ll Need for Book Club
You’ll need the book, DIY decorations, book-themed snacks, our printable discussion questions (see below), and access to the Internet.
- Make your own dream trumpet and get ready for a good night’s sleep. Be sure to decorate it with all the colors of your best and happiest dreams.
- Design a jar like the ones the BFG uses to store his captured dreams. Follow this simple tutorial to make a gorgeous, glowing dream container.
- Transform into the BFG with your very own jumbo-sized ears. We can’t guarantee they’ll help your kids hear you calling when it’s time for dinner, but they’re all the rage in giant land.
- A Proper English Tea: Sophie and the Queen both live in England where people sit down for a proper tea at four o’clock every day. Brew yourself a pot of your favorite tea, break out the cups and saucers, and add some of your favorite finger foods. Try Snozzcumber Sandwiches (these ones are really just cucumber, but work with us), miniature scones, and some cookies. Sip, eat, and enjoy!
- A Full English Breakfast: The BFG has his first real breakfast when he meets the Queen and Dahl makes it sound delicious. Hold book club on a Saturday morning and cook up a meal of eggs, bacon, sausages, potatoes, and toast. If you’ve never had marmalade, now’s the time. (Want to go above and beyond? Consider jarring your own marmalade with your older children to keep the British treats coming months after finishing The BFG!)
- Bigger Than Life Cookie: If full-on English meals aren’t your thing, why not make a giant cookie for the whole group to enjoy? Try this fabulous chocolate chip cookie, a massive sprinkle-filled sugar cookie, or this extraordinarily good oatmeal raisin cookie. Don’t forget to share!
The Book Club Discussion
The BFG is filled with wonderful, strange, and unusual words. When you’re reading together, think about how the author uses language to describe people, places, and events. Use this opportunity not only to talk about the story, but also to consider how we use language every day and how the words we choose impact our understanding of the world.
- Roald Dahl creates a whole new vocabulary for the BFG including words like scrumdiddlyumptious, frobscottle, and telly telly bunkum box. Did you ever have trouble understanding what was going on? What was your favorite made-up word?
- The BFG said he never got to go to school and that’s why he uses so many mixed-up words. Does that make you think about school differently?
- What is the witching hour? Have you ever been up at that time of night? If so, was it anything like what Sophie described?
- How are the BFG and Sophie alike and how are they different? Are they friends?
- How did the BFG react to being bullied by bigger giants? Did he always make good choices? Have you ever been bullied or seen someone else being bullied? How did you handle those experiences?
- Compare two of the giants in the book. Talk about what their names mean and how they act.
- What types of dreams were in the The BFG and how did they behave? If the BFG could give you a dream, what dream would you want to have?
- Why is Sophie excited to meet the Queen of England? If you could pick one person in the world to meet who would it be and why?
- After the BFG meets the Queen, he tastes delicious food for the first time. Why did he only eat snozzcumbers for so long? Are there certain foods you or your family don’t eat? Why?
- Were you satisfied with the ending of the book? If not, how would you have changed it? Did the giants get the punishment they deserved?
Kick It Up a Notch
Games and Activities:
- See It on the Big Screen: Once you’re done reading the book, make a date for the whole book club to watch Disney’s “The BFG”. Compare the two: Which did you like best and why?
- Start a Dream Journal: Keep a notebook and pen by your bed. When you wake up each morning, write down any dreams you can remember. Do you see any patterns? Think about why you might be having certain dreams, then see if your hypotheses are correct with information from sites that interpret the symbolism of dreams, like Dream Moods.
- Share Your Wildest Dreams: The BFG catches nighttime dreams, but we can also daydream. Tell each other your craziest, wildest, most outlandish dreams. Figure out how you could make them come true.
- Play with Words: The BFG has a very unique way of talking, so this is a perfect time to get inspired and have a little fun with language. Feeling competitive? Get out a timer and race to see who can quickly come up with the most fun words in the activities below!
- Silly Synonyms: Synonyms are different words that mean the same thing. Think of synonyms for the words “big,” “friendly,” and “giant.” Compare your lists. Grab a thesaurus and see what words you forgot.
- Hysterical Homonyms: Homonyms are words that sound the same but mean different things such as “sea” and “see,” or “hear” and “here.” List as many homonyms as you can.
- Spectacular Similes: Similes compare one thing to another. One example from the book is “The moonbeam was like a silver blade slicing through the room on to her face.” Can you create your own similes? Use the words “like” and “as” to help you.
- Alliteration: Alliteration is the use of multiple words that start with the same letters or sounds. “Nattering nabobs of negativity” is one example. Write down or say the longest sentence you can think of using only words that start with the same letter.
- Onomatopoeia: Onomatopoeia is the formation of a word by imitating the sound that something makes. Cuckoo for example is a bird that makes the sound “cuckoo cuckoo.” An example from the book is “When a ladybird is walking, I is hearing her feet going clumpety-clumpety-clump.” How many words that describe certain sounds can you list?
- Dive into the Dictionary: Get a big dictionary and take turns opening it to a random page. Find the biggest word on the page and read it out loud. See who knows the definition. Now, change the word to something you might find in a Roald Dahl book. Add letters, syllables, or combine it with another word. Be creative! (You may also want to preorder the new Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary. Filled with all the magical and mysterious words in Roald Dahl’s books, it’s a wonderful companion to the ordinary dictionary.)
- Go Big or Go Home: Check out larger than life things around you. Do you live in California? Visit the giant redwoods. Resident of Washington, D.C.? Look for the giant chairs here and here and imagine sitting in them. Kansas? Find the world’s largest ball of twine. Look for the highest buildings, biggest hot dogs, or tallest slide in your town and take a picture to remember it by.
- Visit the Roald Dahl Museum: If you’re lucky enough to live in England, or are planning a trip across the pond this summer, make sure to visit the Roald Dahl Museum in Buckinghamshire. It’s filled with everything hopscotch and redunculous.
- Name a Flower: In 2016, David Austin Roses announced a new rose variety in honor of the author of The BFG: the Roald Dahl Rose. It is gorgeous and gloriumptious! Try giving new names to the plants and flowers in your house, yard, or local park. Think of the most outrageous ones you can. (I personally have a very large fern in my backyard that we call FDR.)
- Investigate Bubbles: Lots of things in The BFG seem upside down, including the bubbles in frobscottle. Conduct an easy science experiment to understand why bubbles travel upwards in our world and how long they last.
- Listen Up: The BFG has extremely large ears so he can hear “absolutely every single twiddly little thing.” If he knew about them, I bet the BFG would have liked the band They Might Be Giants. Take a listen to “Flood,” their definitive release from 1990.
What to Read Next
Wonder what other larger-than-life creatures exist in the world of books? Pick up one of these fantastic reads:
The Cardiff Giant mystery became one of 19th-century America’s biggest scams. See how George Hull fooled the masses when a large statue was uncovered on his farm.
Inspired by the Norse myths, Neil Gaiman takes readers on an epic journey with a boy named Odd and his animal companions as they try to save Asgard, the Norse city of the Gods, from the Frost Giants who have invaded it.
When Lemuel Gulliver wakes to find himself stranded on the island of Lilliput, he has no way of knowing that this is just the first of his encounters with strange and unknown people, including the giants of Brobdingnag.
Let us know what you think of The BFG and share your own ideas for Book Club for Kids in the comments below!