Like so many kids around the country, our big kids embarked on a new journey this week: they started school. What was especially significant about this year, was that so many of the kids in our Big Kid Book Club started Kindergarten! As these, now mostly, 5 year olds begin to adjust to their new busy schedules, we decided to informally end the book club geared toward their age group…for now. We’ll still continue to have Baby Toddler Book Club for our little ones (2 -3 years old right now) and our Intergenerational Book Club, but for our Big Kids we are taking an indeterminate break. There is always a possibility that we will pick up again in the future, but scheduling just got to be too challenging with most kids in school (and at several different schools) all day. In reality, we also needed to cut back on “extras” to give the kiddos time to adjust to their new routines.
I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic as I prepped for our last Big Kid Book Club meeting with this group. These kiddos were our ORIGINAL Baby Toddler Book Club members so they’ve known each other since they were babies! We’ve had the joy of watching the children all grow along side each other and the invaluable support of getting to meet, visit, and discuss with the same group of parent friends for 4 years. Not to mention, I reflected back on the number of books, educational activities, and healthy snacks we’ve exposed our kids to and I know that Book Club has had a meaningful impact on their early childhood and our parenting experiences. Just for fun, I put together a few photos of these kids over the years at book club meetings. I had SO much fun looking back at pictures. These are just a few (quickly selected photos) of the many, many meetings we’ve had. To see all of our meetings and even better pictures, see our Book List.
For our last meeting, we read a book that I remember from MY childhood called The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I chose this book because several parents had mentioned that it would be fun to encourage the kids to keep in touch with one another while many are in different schools or classes and letter writing would be one way to do it. Writing is an important literacy skill that sort of signifies the bridge that is often crossed during this upcoming year (when kids take all of the pre-literacy skills that we’ve been emphasizing over their first 5 years and begin to apply it to their own reading and writing). The Jolly Postman is also a story about stories, so after all of the many stories we’ve read together over the past 4 years, this seemed like a good book end (pun intended)!
The Jolly Postman is the tale of a postman in a fairytale land who delivers mail to familiar fairytale characters (think: Cinderella, the Wolf in Little Read Riding Hood, the Witch from Hansel and Gretel, the little Bear from Goldilocks and the Three Bears, etc.). The mail provides some explanation of what might have happened to the characters after the fairytale ended, but it does so in an entirely humorous way (i.e. The Wolf receives a letter from Little Red Riding Hood’s attorney). Some of the humor the kids get, some goes over their heads, but the grown-ups get it which makes reading the book that much more enjoyable. One of the kids’ favorite aspects of the book is that each page features an envelope with pieces of mail that can be removed and read from the envelope pockets. This book is a little long to read, so I skimmed over a few parts at the end (especially if there was a fairytale the kids weren’t as familiar with), but overall the kids were really into this book. They all sat quietly and listened attentively (another clear sign that these big kids really are ready for Kindergarten)!
After we read, we had a tea party. In the book, the postman drinks tea at nearly every stop he makes, which was the perfect call for a tea party. We drank herbal iced tea and had “book” snacks. The book snacks were my favorite part of this meeting. I had seen THESE little book sandwiches on The Kids Activities Blog a couple of years ago and knew that I HAD to try them at some point. I adapted the recipe provided on their SITE in just a couple of ways. First, I cut three rectangles into the tortillas instead of two, which gave me more, but smaller, sandwiches. Second, I only used cheese in my sandwiches because we have several vegetarians in our group. I also didn’t need any spread to get them to stick, but we easily could have used some. To make the book “pages,” I cut pieces of pre-sliced deli cheese into fourths to create 4 “pages”. Each book had two “pages.” I just folded a tortilla “cover” over two cheese “pages” and trimmed it a bit if needed. I then used edible food markers to write on the spine and cover. I wrote the names of fairytales on each book cover. I also made book “cookies” using fig newtons. I found several sources of inspiration for these on Pinterest, like THIS one. I simply used my edible food markers to write on the cookies to make them look like books. I just wrote “book” and “read” on the cookies. Both “books” were a hit and were all eaten up!
After we ate, we wrote letters to one another. Each family got an envelope that they wrote their name and address on. The kids drew or wrote one letter/picture that would be sent to another book club friend. We traded envelopes (so everybody got one with someone else address on it), put their OWN address on the return address spot and the kids put their pictures inside to be mailed to their friend. I stuck all of the envelopes in the mail the next day and the kids each received mail a couple of days later. It was fun to see my little one’s excited reaction to getting mail (even though he essentially knew what was inside)! Mail is really fun to receive at this age!
We hope these kiddos will continue to stay in touch with each other and we hope that we have instilled a lifelong love of books, reading, and learning during their formative years. If we pick book club back up again for these school age kids, we’ll report back here on the blog. In the meantime, check back with us next month to see what our Baby Toddler Book Club group and our Intergenerational Book Club is doing. We have LOTS of early childhood reading fun planned for the upcoming year!!