I love to read. My goal this year is 100 books. With 3 kids (we're currently homeschooling), a household to run, a nonprofit to get off the ground -- it is a lofty goal, I know. Books are my escape, my self-care. I also really value community. I want to be able to have adult intellectual conversations and gain different perspectives from various sources. How could I do that in the small time that I do have free? Book clubs. I feel a sense of belonging. A yearning for knowledge. A way to meet new people, hear new perspectives. Afterwards, I find myself extremely grateful for the conversations I've had and the connections that I've built. Then I thought:
What if kids could have the same opportunity? To learn together. To play together. To build a community and give back together. To meet new people. To hear new perspectives. To get excited about reading because they are reading with their friends. To be empathetic, understanding kids.
Enter: MOSS Kids Book Club
A place where kids can come together once a month (or more, feel free to spread it out). A place to read a brand new, diverse and inclusive book. A place to learn together, to make and craft together. To build those connections. To have those conversations. To give back to their community, together. So let's get started.
Here's how it is going to work:
On the first of the month, we will ship you that month's book pick. It will always be a diverse & inclusive book. It will always be a new (ish) release.
That first week, we will email you with the craft (written and visual instructions will be included-- example below), printable coloring/activity pages straight from the illustrator, and a community outreach activity for you all to do together as a way to give back and to build those connections within your local community.
Now you can plan. Do it all in one meeting. Meet a couple times in the month. Whichever you choose, please share with us on socials. We would love to see all the fun you are having and the impact that this program has on your group.
After you are all done, donate the book to your local public library (if they don't have it), your local school library, or a little free library in your area.
Alright, now to preview what things will look like with our April pick --
written by Tziporah Cohen & illustrated by Udayana Lugo
When a notice for a community potluck is posted, Victoria and her neighbor Mrs. Kosta decide to bring a beet salad as their contribution. But first they need to grow this special vegetable for their dish. They plant the seeds in their garden plot, and throughout the summer they water, fertilize, weed, and mulch. And they watch their beet grow and grow and grow. On potluck day, it's time to harvest so they can make their salad. Victoria grabs the garlic and the grater and Mrs. Kosta steps up to remove the beautiful red veg from its underground home. But their care and attention has grown the biggest beet ever, and it stubbornly refuses to come loose. This beet won't budge! Will Victoria and Mrs. Kosta be able to make their special salad? Not to worry--help comes in all shapes and sizes. But the biggest help of all, comes from the smallest person. This clever, humorous book is a celebration of community and the ways we all come together. Back matter includes an author's note and a beet salad recipe.
When we read this aloud with our local library partners for story time, we wanted to make sure we kept the kids engaged and entertained. This book does just that. Every time the characters started to pull together, we asked the kids to pretend they were wrapping an arm around the beet leaves and tug together 3x "Tug 1, tug, 2, tug 3 -- But that big red beet wouldn't budge. Not even one little bit." We did this every time. They were completely engaged and wondering which tugs were going to be the ones that *finally* pulled the beet out.
let's craft: make a (massive) beet garden
When coming up with a craft, I really wanted the beet to be the main focus. Beets are easy to make right? A red body with green leaves. Easy. I also wanted to challenge our kids a little bit and let them be creative in the process. Depending upon the age group you are working with and the time you have will determine how you will set this crafting activity up. If you have the time to allow paint to dry, paint the paper plate first. Then read. Then it should be dry for you to begin crafting. If you have toddlers and you don't have the time or patience for the mess or to let things dry, you can prep the paint portion ahead of time. For the story times we did this week at our libraries: we pre-painted the plates, hole punched them, cut out beet and leaf shapes, and pre-cut the yarn. That way after reading the story, all the kids needed to do was to put everything together. Again, it's up to you to determine the developmental level the kids in your group are at and what is feasible in the time you have together.
Single hole punch
Red construction paper
Green construction paper
*Note: If you would like to work on tracing & cutting skills with your group, make a quick template to trace. We use the cardboard from cereal boxes or granola bar boxes as it's thin, yet sturdy. Kids can trace the beet and leaves and then cut out their own.
1. Paint your paper plate: top half blue (the sky), bottom half brown (the dirt).
2. Allow paint to dry.
3. Read the story or begin to create your beet.
4. Have kids hand draw or trace a template of a big (ish) beet on the red construction paper. We made ours about 4-5in across.
5. Cut out the red beet body.
6. Have kids hand draw or trace a template of beet leaves on the green construction paper. We made 2-3 leaves for each beet.
7. Cut out the leaves.
8. Glue beet leaves to the top of the beet body. Yay! You have made a beet.
9. Hopefully your painted paper plate has dried. If so, hole punch 8x around the brown bottom portion, leaving about 1-1/2 in between each hole punch. If your plates are not dry, color the printable coloring sheets (see below).
10. Time for yarn. We found about 1-2 arms length to be good -- depending upon the age of the kid. The shorter the better for younger kids. Cut the yarn. Thread through one end of the yarn; front to back. Tape the start of the yarn to the back of the plate.
11. Take the other end of the yarn and wrap a small piece of tape around it. It should now look like a shoelace. This will prevent the end of the yarn from fraying when weaving it through the holes.
12. Begin to weave. This is where the kids can get creative. Weave across the plate. Weave diagonal. Weave until you run out of yarn. Tape the other end to the back of the plate. See picture below of what it should look like.
13. Lastly, plant your beet. Stick your beet through the yarn -- and you have a *massive* beet garden!
We are so grateful that we were able to work with Sleeping Bear Press (Cherry Lake Publishing) to have the books gifted this month for our local libraries. Cherry Lake Publishing has so many activities and printable activity sheets that correlate with their books made by the illustrators on their site.
For City Beet, Udayana Lugo created 3 coloring pages; a recipe page (Raw Beet & Garlic Salad), a coloring page of all the community members in the book attempting to pull the beet out, and a coloring page of the community sitting down together at the Potluck Block Party. Adults, please note the diversity among the people. It's books like these that are going to help raise kind, empathic, understanding kids. Click to download pages below.
This month's community outreach is *hopefully* a partnership with your local library. Many public library systems (around this time of year) have a seed library. A seed library is where you can "check out" seeds to help start your own garden or you can donate seeds to help others begin their gardening journey.
Our outreach activity for the month is to find out if your local library has a seed library! If they do, choose a couple seeds to donate as a group to help others begin to grow their own food and flowers. Just make sure you choose seeds that are native or will thrive in your area. If your library does not have a seed library, help them create one! All you need are seeds and a place to store them. One of our local libraries has one called: Sow & Grow Seed Library. They have their seeds labeled in an old card catalog shelf. People can take what they need and begin to grow their own garden. This library also had printables about which seeds thrive best in their area & when to plant them. Maybe your group can find some too and have the librarians print them out. You may want to find a few gardening books to help finish off the display. Public libraries are a vital part of our community. They provided their local area with books, access to computers and printers, magazines/newspapers and so much more. You and your group can help provide just one more opportunity for the people in your area to be self-sufficient, to save money and to help save the environment.
And that's it! We'll send you the book and an email with the craft, printable coloring sheets and a community outreach activity. If you sign up for the book club between 4/28 - 5/19, you will start receiving your book club package and packet in June. If you enjoyed this blog, please comment below -- tell us, we'd love your feedback. Share this with your friends, family, to your instagram stories, to your Facebook page/groups. The more people we reach, the more kids we can help. If you're really feeling generous, don't forget you can make a monetary donation or purchase a book (or a few) off of our wishlist. Links provided below. Thanks!