Guess the Picture Book by the First Line is a free printable game for kids who like to read, for their parents, teachers and librarians. Print, cut the cards out, and play!
“In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf…”
Chances are, if you have a kid under the age of five, you can recognize the beginning of the book instantaneously, for having read it about a hundred times! This is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. What about this?
“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines…”
We haven’t read that one as much, but nevertheless, when I quizzed my husband, his response came right away, “Madeline!”
There are others…
“Elizabeth was a beautiful princess.” “Once there was a tree… and she loved a little boy.” “A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.”
So many good books and so many intriguing beginnings. So I decided, why, I’ll make a game out of this! And this is it – Guess the Book by the First Line game, the picture book edition of it, anyway.
When to Play the Book Guessing Game
- if you want to introduce the concept of titles and authors to your kids
- if you study storytelling and want to discuss what makes a good beginning to the book
- if you want to test whether they actually remember the books you have read to them dozens of times
- if you are in a mood to reminisce over those old books you used to read together
- if you need a boredom buster for rainy days and long drives
In short, it’s a perfect game for book geeks! Which I have always considered myself to be. Only, nowadays the majority of the books I buy are picture books, so I’ve had to adjust accordingly. But truly, it’s fascinating to go down the list and check different book beginnings. Some are very short and brisk, while some are quite poetic and elaborate. Some throw you right into action, while others take you to the past. Quite a few books had the title in its first sentence… I had to exclude those ones because they gave the answer away too easily.
My son loved playing this game because he was as good as us at it if not better, and that’s always reassuring for a four-year-old to see that his love for books counts for something.
What’s Included in the Game
- 80 cards with 80 first sentences and 80 last sentences
- a separate cheat sheet with titles of the books
- empty cards for you to add your favourites
- while only picture books are included, the selection is a variety of classic and popular modern book titles
Print, cut and play!
Check out some of the books used in its creation. There are eighteen on this picture, but there are eighty in the game.
Different Ways to Play
- There is a very small chance that your family or your class had read all the books from the list. To be fair, we haven’t read all the books either. After I selected the majority of them from our book shelves, I asked our friends to share beginnings and endings of their favourite books, so that the list was more objective. I see two ways to go about the problem of unfamiliar titles. You can go through the cards beforehand and only leave the ones that your children are familiar with. Or you can leave it as it is and play against the game – if there is a book you don’t know, well, that’s just that. Some beginnings might seem so inspirational that kids will want to check them out from the library!
- Put the cards in a pile. Take a card and read the first sentence out loud to others. You can either have a person who will do it throughout the game (for instance, the teacher reads, the students guess) or you can take turns doing that (in a little family circle). The person who guesses the book from the first sentence gets 2 points. If the book isn’t guessed right away, the last sentence is read, and the person who guesses that gets 1 point. If no one guesses, no points are awarded.
- It is entirely up to you what to consider as a correct guess. You can say that only the full title will be accepted as the right guess, or you can accept a vague description of the plot as proof that the kid knows the book and has guessed it correctly. You can check the answers on the sheet at the end of the game file. A number on the card corresponds with the number of the book in the list.
For the youngest kids, you can even select a few cards and a few books off your shelf. Read the cards out loud and ask them to point at the book the extract is from. Or make it into a treasure book hunt and ask them to find the book on the shelf!
I hope you will have as much fun as we did, playing the game!
If you want to leave the beginning and ending of your favourite book in the comments, I can always add them to my list at a later date.
Download the Book Guessing Game