This is my second post about November book club meetings and I am quite aware that, at this point, I am well past the proverbial social media deadline for posting about Thanksgiving (which is at least 24 hours before the holiday occurs), but bare with me. While we chose our November book because it is about being thankful, it in no way is a Thanksgiving book. My children love this book all year and our activity and snack would be perfectly acceptable any time of year.
All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang is wonderful for many reasons. First,this book just seems to speak to children. My kids adore this book and I think one of the reasons is that the author hits the nail on the head about what very young children might be thankful for. Young children’s worlds developmentally revolve around themselves and this book helps them think quite literally about their bodies and why they could be glad they have the parts they have–a good place to begin the concept of thankfulness.
Second, the book features a presumably multi-racial family. I try hard to look for books featuring diverse characters and families because I know that picture books featuring white children well out-number picture books featuring children of color. I firmly believe that white children should read books featuring characters that don’t look like them, the same way I believe that boys should read books about female main characters. On that same note, children of color (and girls) should have opportunities to see themselves represented in books as frequently as white children (and boys) do.
Third, this book is very calming to read. Toward the middle of the book, the child sits down with his mother and reads a book together, then notices the things in his room while they are reading. Not long later he’s listening to evening noises coming from outside his window, then he hears silence, at which point, my kids have learned to be silent (as much as they can be). Do you know how powerful a few second of silence are?! Then the child listens to his heart, feels loved for by his family, and ends by understanding himself as part of a universe. By the time we get to the last page, we are usually reading really calming and yawning (in a good way)! I love the relaxing effect this books has on my kids before nap or bed time!
We read this book for our book club and it wasn’t quite as peaceful as a pre-nap-time reading, but was still enjoyed by many of our members! After we read the book, the adults cut apart brown paper bags to create long sheets of paper. The author used brown paper for her illustrations in the book, so this choice seemed fitting. The inside of most paper bags is blank so we turned the paper to the blank side and laid it out on the floor. Some of the kids were comfortable laying on their backs while they were traced by their parent. Other kids, needed to warm up to the idea. A few traced their hands or feet or even a toy. A few others were interested in being traced after we hung the paper on the wall with masking tape and traced them standing up (a tip from one of our parent-members who used to be a teacher)! A few parents and kids then worked together to draw on some details like eyes, hair, etc.
Keeping with the body theme, we made vegetable people for snack! We drew inspiration from THIS blog, but adapted it to fit our little eaters and the size of our plates! To make the vegetable people, peel and slice a mini-cucumber in half lengthwise and then slice vertically into bite-sized pieces. Cut pieces of pepper to look like eyes and a mouth (little squares and a rectangle). On a plate, place the cucumber down the middle as the body of a “stick” person. Use carrots as the arms and legs and tomatoes as the hands and feet. If needed for your child’s eating needs/safety, slice the carrots and tomatoes into manageable pieces. Place a small cup (I used Diamond Daily Mini-Cups) at the top of the cucumber as a “head” and fill with ranch dressing. Place the pepper pieces on top of the ranch as the eyes and mouth and the broccoli above the “eyes” as hair.You can help point out the body parts for which little ones might be thankful before they eat the snack (if you have time)!
See? A thankful themed meeting but not a Thanksgiving meeting–so plenty of time to enjoy, even if it is now December!