When I discovered that Growing Book by Book was hosting a Family Dinner Book club with monthly books, activities, meal ideas, and service projects and inviting families to participate, I was SOLD! This is such a perfect fit for our book loving family and in the words of my oldest, “Now Daddy gets to have a book club too!” We’ll be reading along with the Family Dinner Book club and sharing our own replications or adaptations of the activities, meals, and service projects. Here’s what we did this month:
This month’s Family Dinner Book Club selection was The Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña. I had a hard time getting my hands on this award winning book (it was apparently extremely popular at our local libraries and was back ordered on Amazon). As luck would have it, however, this book was featured on the front page of my preschooler’s Scholastic February Book Order–score!
Once we got our hands on a copy of this book, we understood its popularity. The book is a story of a boy and his grandmother as they take a bus to feed a meal at a soup kitchen. While riding the bus the boy makes observations about the people and situations he encounters and the grandmother helps him understand perspective in circumstance. My preschooler was completely taken with the story and asked some really thoughtful questions.
We read the book over a meal that we prepared together. We made the El Potato Stew recipe suggested by Family Dinner Book Club and Daisy at Home. We substituted regular mild salsa for the salsa verde because it’s what we had on hand. Otherwise, we followed the recipe. We were amused to find that our salsa substitution actually turned our stew into a reddish orange color that matched the front cover of the book. The soup was a big hit with my family and was very easy to prepare. We talked about how the ingredients were those that mostly could be found at a local pantry and/or were fairly inexpensive. We topped our soup with some corn chips and paired it with a tomatillo salad (tomatillos, avocado, lime zest and juice, and cilantro). I loved that our family specifically took time to cook the meal together and then sat down to read the book while we ate.
Our corresponding service project was another happy coincidence this month. My kids and I often visit a local community food pantry to drop off food, because food security is something we care deeply about. This month, we decided to visit a college food pantry. This particular pantry is run by a student group that I advised when I worked at the university. The pantry celebrated their five year anniversary this month, so it was a great time for us to visit and drop off food. I am so proud of the students who created the pantry, the students who continue to run it, and the students who utilize it. The number of students the pantry serves each week has grown substantially. As my students discovered five years ago and is still the case today, many low-income students on college campuses face food insecurity. It’s a population often overlooked. I’m glad my young children got to see peers helping one another–it was a perfect fit with the theme of The Last Stop on Market Street.