Book Party {The Joyful Life Library}

Last year I had some girl friends over for a Little Dresses for Africa party. That party was one of the highlights of 2009 for me. It was so fun to hang out with close friends and do something both creative and meaningful. It was a great day. I knew this year I wanted to do something similar. I thought about another Little Dresses party, but I also wanted to do something with the boys this year. A little while back I was reading Heather’s blog Blessed Little Nest and came to the page about her precious son Samuel. Samuel lived 6 weeks on this earth. To celebrate Samuel and honor him, his family began The Joyful Life Library. The Joyful Life Library has been established at the hospital that cared for Samuel. The goal of library is to make sure that all the children and their families have access to books during their stay at the hospital…and even a brand new book to take home.

My boys love to read. As a mom I know the joy that reading brings to my kids. Hospital stays are rough and the simple act of reading a new book can bring so much joy to a child and a parent. After reading Heather’s blog I thought my boys could get really excited about having a party to collect books for children in the hospital. So that is what we did.

We sent invitations to some of the older boys close friends. The party included a movie outside so the time was pretty late….too late to invite our younger kids’ friends. It was a little late for everyone, but we encouraged the kids to come in their pjs and bring a blanket.

The kids got bookplates with their invitations. The bookplates were signed and placed in the donated books.

Our evening included reading books and watching The Cat & The Hat.

Disclaimer: There are laws concerning showing movies…there is a difference in public and private viewing. You will want to read on that before you show a movie to a large group. You can do a basic search on google for more info.

Cute girls ready for a movie. I kept asking them if they wanted to take off their fleece robes since it was 90+ outside. Fashion before comfort.

Checking out all the books that were donated. I really love that this little guy’s book is upside down.

We had a bag with extra bookplates in case guests brought more than one book to donate.

A few bedtime stories before it got dark enough for the movie.

The sword made more than one appearance. During the movie I saw it on the screen…he figured out how to block the projector with it.

It was a good, hot, Oklahoma night. There are things I’ll change next time, but for a first run I think & hope everyone had a great time. I’ll post some details on the “how” of everything tomorrow. Sometimes I think we assume that doing charitable acts requires great personal sacrifice or is just hard. Really I think it can be as simple as knowing what you enjoy and using those things to benefit others. Having a bunch of friends over to eat popcorn and watch a movie in our field was far from a personal sacrifice or some kind of big great deed – it was a fun night with friends.

When the idea first popped in my non-stop brain I ran it by a few friends. I even picked the date based on when they could come, just to be sure someone would be there other than just my family. I have such great supportive friends. I am thankful for girlfriends that encourage me in my random ideas and show up with their families to support mine. I want my kids to grow up with it being second nature to combine what they love with ways to help others, but it starts with me being intentional to demonstrate it…and having supportive friends makes that possible.

So THANK YOU to those of you that came, endured a little too many bedtime stories, and donated books. We are so grateful.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Maike - what a lovely idea! It looks great, so I would not change anything at all…. except inviting me?

  • amanda torres - I love everything about this! Fabulous idea!!!

  • christina larsen - What a great idea. I have a friend who’s little boy has been in and out of the hospital with brain cancer for the past few months. That’s a great way to get kids involved. πŸ™‚

  • colleen - okay! I am inspired! I have a friend who is a neuro-surgeon at the children’s hospital here in Birmingham, AL. Think i will give him a call and ask about donating books for some of the waiting/children’s areas there! Would love to know how you went about picking a hospital, getting permission, etc. Thanks Ashley Ann, you have encouraged me to try something like this with my big (8 & 10) kids!

  • Jeannette Swan - Ashley – I hope you know how much we appreciate you and all that you inspire in us!! I am blessed by your willingness to allow God to use you to greatly enrich the lives of so many people! Keep the ideas coming since I don’t have original ones of my own!

  • Chrissy - I love this idea… we had a movie in our backyard a couple of weeks ago. I wish we would have done something for others too! I think we will have to do this again:)
    Thanks for your heart for others… it’s contagious!

  • Mandi Smith - So awesome Ashley! I love all the ideas that you come up with and how creative you are to show Christ’s love to people around the world!

  • Emily Lusk - You should send this idea in to Family Fun magazine!! Or you should put all your ideas together in a fun book! I know I would go out and buy it!! I guess I am going to have to print off all these fun ideas you have so that I can remember them for when my kids get a little older!! What a great idea and looks like the kids had fun!

  • Anna Joy - That is such a great idea!! That is something the kiddos will never forget…getting to give something away that they love to someone who needs it and then getting the chance to hang out with friends and watch a movie outside! you’re such a genius! πŸ™‚

  • Evie - That may be the cutest thing ever! Working in a hospital I know how much that would mean to family and patients… and staff that are taking care of the patients!! LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea… thank you for sharing!

  • Nicole - another wonderful idea!!

  • andy - what a great idea
    love it

  • megan - This is an amazing idea. Not only the charity, but the movie night as well. What a fun way to get people involved and wanting to give! And your words on how tough hospital stays are totally struck a chord with me. It is so hard, and I know from experience how just one nice thing that someone does for you or your child when you’re in there makes such a difference. It really does.

    I am completely inspired by your idea and I am ready to start planning my own party asap! Thank you for being so generous and inspiring!

  • Abby - Ashley, this is fantastic! What a fun way to give something back and get kids involved. Really lovely.

  • laura - there’s evidence of grace in your life…i just love it! i am INSPIRED….

  • giozi - Wonderful idea. I only can say that God is big and he put you in the way that a lot of people as face to face as online. I feel love in your pictures, in this party.

  • Yanet - What a cool idea! Ilove how you incorporate your entire family in your good deeds and make it so super fun for everyone. I wanna be like you when I grow up!

  • ~abi~ - i am always impressed by your ideas–but especially the ones that help others and teach your kids to help, too! πŸ™‚

  • Cate O'Malley - Sounds like a wonderful night! We have a Back to School Rainbow Cake party in a few weeks that I want to combine with a little bit of charitable giving; I’m thinking either PJs to go to the pajama program or books. It really does take so little to do so much. Wonderful example, Ashley!

  • patti - so awesome! thanks for sharing!!

  • Heather - the party looks like such fun! we are truly so grateful that you felt a connection to our project and used it as a way to help teach kids about helping others. those books are going to be loved by so many kids and their parents. thank you! thank you! thank you!

  • Amanda - I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! How fun! I might even think about doing something like this as well! I love what you said at the end about how it all begins with you being intentional about doing things for other people and setting that example for your kids. It’s so true. Seeing the example by someone they love and respect is probably one of the best ways children learn!

  • Donna - I LOVE this idea! We have been hosting backyard movies every summer for 4 years and we have guests bring pantry items for a local food bank. For every item they bring, they get a raffle ticket to win giant boxed candy to eat during the movie. I linked your post to my blog.

  • tamara - wonderful idea!!!!!!!!!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh Ashley, what a beautiful idea! Really sweet. Great job.

  • Kristy C - What a great idea! I definitely would have been there to support such an amazing cause that would have been close to my own heart. Thank you for being such a giving person.

  • Liene - What a great idea! Very fun pictures! And I love the cat in the hat although I am from Holland and I am not brought up with books from Dr. Seuss. My boys have books from Dr. Seuss in Dutch and English. Great pleasure to read them in both languages!

  • the inadvertent farmer - We have seen this done by our neighbors at our cabin and would love to try the whole movie sheet thing…can’t wait for details.

    Thanks for being an intentional person…if we are purposeful in how we live our lives we can indeed make a difference in this world. Kim

  • Brooke - Really, really fun ideas. Who doesn’t love an outdoor movie, even if it’s super hot? I think that is a wonderful idea to do something great. Way to go πŸ™‚

  • sandi - What an awesome idea! Love it!

  • meg duerksen - this rocks.
    we made our invites today…..noe we have to figure out the details πŸ™‚

  • candace - as a teacher and wife of children’s hospital employee – i am absolutely in LOVE with this idea. trying to find a way to do this here!

  • Cassandra Marie - How wonderful is this?! Such a good idea…I’m sure the kids loved it πŸ˜€

    Well, I wanted to stop by and let you know that I’m hosting a really great giveaway on my page, just in case you wanted to enter!


  • Jenn - What a wonderful party!! I love the movie night idea!! hm… wheels are turning! =) My little girl and I have hosted a few charity parties…tying fleece blanket parties and a sewing feelie hearts for Children’s hospital… they are fairly easy to plan… so fun and so rewarding… and the kids learn about helping others… beautiful beautiful! I Love Heathers blog and her story of strength and choosing to help others in memory of Samuel is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing!! I am off to read your post about the dresses!! =)

  • Linda - Such a great idea! I may have to borrow it.

  • shelly@familyblt - Love your party and idea! Those books are going to be great πŸ™‚
    love Heather’s blog too!

  • kristine - thanks for supporting samuel, heather and the library! you do great work!!

  • emily anderson - oh ashley, this is an amazing idea.

    i loved that you got the boys involved too. great job.

    also, we finally let the cat out of the bag about our adoption! posted it on our blog today!

  • Kelly Beane - What a beautiful and inspiring idea! Love all the little details as well!

  • Regina - what a fabulous idea! i’m trying to figure out a way to do it in our last few weeks of summer.

  • Jess - What an awesome idea Ashley. I love everything about your movie night. When Levi gets older we will have to plan a movie night at our house…a Kansas movie night.

  • Casey - Ashley
    You are such an inspiration to others. I love your ideas, your posts, your skills and your mothering antics…

    The story about samuel made me cry. I had to link this post as well as blessed little nest on my blog to bring readers here.. I hope thats okay.

  • Joy Andrews - Super fun idea! I think I will try it in our neighborhood!
    thanks! again!

  • Chuck Duffie - I want to try this on our block. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful idea in such a wonderful way.

  • julie - Simply beautiful. Thank you for your big heart and thank you so much for doing this for Samuel. Thank you.

  • Vikki Kast - Your blog is amazing! I enjoy it so much:) Your talent is endless!!!

  • Charissa - You are so creative and fun!

  • Weddinic – Wedding Articles » Blog Archive » A Book Party - […] about our shared love of literature. With that said, I was incredibly inspired when I saw this book party hosted by Ashley Campbell of Ashley Ann Photography and the incredible blog Under the Sycamore. […]

  • Jess @ Pen N' Paperflowers Studio & Design - I’m so inspired by your “parties with a purpose”. This book party turned out adorable and with the sweet meaning behind it – well, it’s just all the more darling. I’ve shared your inspiration on my fb fanpage… THANK YOU!!

  • erica922 - wow such an inspiring event dear
    tfs such wonderful act!

  • Books and a Movie Party : Multiply Delicious- All About the Kids - […] party and all for the best reasons.Β  Please stop by Ashley’s amazing blog to see more of this party and just to be amazed.Β  Her site is beautiful and her photography breathtaking.Β  Thanks […]

  • gathering event inspiration - […] 2. Children’s party inspiration, a party filled with special meaning as books are gathered for a hospital library at Under the Sycamore […]

  • A Book Party | The Sweetest Occasion - […] about our shared love of literature. With that said, I was incredibly inspired when I saw this book party hosted by Ashley Campbell of Ashley Ann Photography and the incredible blog Under the Sycamore. […]

  • Blessed little nest shoot » Lauren Jean Photography - […] knew when I read about this project I wanted to help. In addition to wanting to throw my own awesome book party for the cause I also knew thatΒ  what every awesome blogger needs is some rocking pictures […]

  • Evy M Tofte - Hi can I blog about this? I will surely reffer to your blog, and use some pics from your site πŸ™‚

  • And Now the News… - […] Ashley Ann Photography Watching movies outside under the Oklahoma stars? Now that’s a play […]

  • blogger summer faves: parties « - […] { Via Under the Sycamore } […]

  • 30 Block Party Ideas - The Dating Divas - […] Book Party – Do some charity work while having fun with your friends.Β  Invite everyone over and bring […]