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Confession: My family is Tolkien crazy, and “Who Was J.R.R. Tolkien?” is not a question one should ponder aloud in my presence.

We love hobbits, elves, dwarves, and ents, wizards, dragons, elevensies, and one of our kids is named after a Lord of the Rings character. Both the books and films of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings have prime real-estate in our home library, and J.R.R. is my literary crush. What I wouldn’t give to have been a linguistics student at Oxford in the 30’s or fly on the wall at Eagle & Child during a meeting of The Inklings.  

little man dressed as a Hobbit on Read Across America / Book Character Day in Kindergarten

Alas, I was born in the wrong decade and country. Fortunately, Tolkien endures in his timeless literary classics, and his life and works are certainly worthy of our consideration and study. We recently discovered more about the masterful storyteller by reading Who Was JRR Tolkien? from our favorite children’s biographers, as part of a fun blog series with likeminded online chums.

Who Was J.R.R. Tolkien? is insightful to faithful fanboys and Middle-earth newcomers alike. Notable new tidbits I gleaned from this biography are thus:

  • Despite enjoying much acclaim and financial success in his lifetime, Robert [JRR] & wife Edith humbly maintained a modest existence in the same home without even luxury of a vehicle. #respect
  • A true friend indeed, Tolkien is also credited with sharing the Gospel with C.S. Lewis, at the time an agnostic literary master who later used allegory to brilliantly illustrate the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ through fantasy fiction.

Some simple activities to spark Tolkien-fever in young halflings: 

  • Serve Second Breakfast or Afternoon Tea, bonus points for elven bread (Keebler Elf Cookies), hoarded gold (chocolate coins), one ring to rule them all (ring pops), or Po-tay-tos (boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew)

  • Riddles– stump each other in the spirit of Bilbo & Gollum
  • Shire Naming– Billy son of Gloin, Bobby son of a Took, Sally Horse Rider of Rohan, etc.,
  • craft Hobbit/Elf ears with felt or construction paper hot-glued to a headband
  • Backyard Elven archery lesson
  • Form a Fellowship– in the form of a book club w/a movie marathon finale

Be sure to check out all the other fun biographies & their corresponding activities featured in the Who Was? What Was? Where Is? blog series, including my post on Venus & Serena Williams.

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