By Violeta Garza, Multnomah County Library, Troutdale Branch
Leave it to teens to turn something old into something new. My White Lotus Japanese Club is full of love for old-school stuff like Queen, the Narnia books, and yes, Finding Nemo. When one teen recommended we do Mad Libs, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. I couldn’t help but think, “Uhhh… okay.” Really? Mad Libs? Mad Libs is a word game where players receive a list of parts of speech (ie, noun, verb, etc.) and they have to fill in the blanks that correspond to a story. Of course, the players fill in the gaps before even reading the story, and then they plug in their guesses to make a really disjointed tale.
So with the help of the internet, I concocted a Mad Libs piece that I thought they’d enjoy. Oh, they more than enjoyed it. At one point, the meeting reached fever pitch. They couldn’t wait to share their pieces once they got to witness the possible results. One teen– the one who was most resistant to the activity at the beginning– wound up saying, “I think I might die from laughter!” after she read her story. When we did it again at the next meeting, they were no less excited, and it’s become a tradition of sorts.
Some tips to make this opportunity go as smoothly as possible:
- You may have to talk a bit about the parts of speech. Even though I had examples next to each one, some of them still needed to hear that “adjectives” are simply descriptive words.
- Set some ground rules. In my experience, they love pushing the envelope, so to speak. If you want this to be a “family friendly” activity, let them know ahead of time, or you might get some borderline adult content. And hey, if you’re cool with that, cool beans.
- Encourage them to write their own Mad Libs, but be prepared to do your own if they don’t step up to the plate. Writing them isn’t nearly as fun as filling them out.
At one point, they might be totally over it, but for now, it’s been really low-budget fun!
Check out these examples: