Big Hearted Families Book Club

Big Hearted Back To School Prep

August Book Club
August Book Club

It's that time of year again. My family, like so many of yours, is once again engulfed in all of the excitement, nervous planning, and - yes- shopping that goes along with a new class schedule. If' you're looking for big-hearted conversation starters, book ideas, and really great tips to add  a "giving" aspect to your back-to-school rituals check out the Doing Good Together newsletter.

My family has been enjoying the book Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, which is this month's book club pick for Big-Hearted Families.

Those Shoes is exactly the type of story we hunt for here at Big-Hearted Families. It is a book full of thought-provoking ideas and real-life challenges. It’s also a beautifully written, heart-warming story that your family will want to pick up again and again.

My five-year-old has been asking for it at every story time lately.

This little book is packed with important ideas, such as:

>   Recognizing the difference between what we want and what we need is not always easy, for kids or adults.

>   We all have something valuable to give, no matter how much or how little we have.

>   Being generous is rewarding, but it can also be difficult.

There are still  a few copies available over at our shop, if you want to  bring this wonderful book - along with the recipe and activity - home for your family.

I found the clothing drive particularly helpful. Not only did the story and the conversation inspire my girls to clear out the clutter of beautiful but rarely worn clothes in the back of their closet, but it got them talking to their friends about "gently worn" or even new donations.

We'll be making our drop off on Monday -three large bags full of barely worn children's clothes and shoes.

Plus, as we school shop for ourselves, we're working hard to identify "need" versus "want," in an effort to avoid cluttering up the closets once again with more than we can wear.  Thankfully, my girls are young enough that they are as unconcerned as I am by brands and trends, so coveting the latest pair of .... whatever is trendy this fall... won't be a hurdle for us. I am hopeful that folding "giving" aspects into our back-to-school rituals will help make future years a little easier to manage, even after they become more socially aware.

How are you making back-to-school season a time of giving and reflection with your family?

Big Hearted Families Book Club: The Story of Ferdinand

July - Ferdinand - Graphic SummaryFor the first time, we're unable to post all of the book club materials for free. But don't worry, if  The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf is high on your list of favorites, we still have a few copies available. Click here to order. The Story of Ferdinand is a classic. The story is simply told, but it offers a great deal to talk about. Ferdinand is a bull who has the confidence to stay true to himself in spite of incessant poking and prodding from others. He teaches us all to discover what truly makes us happy, and to pursue that happiness even if it seems odd or unexpected to the rest of the world.

This month, share this classic story with your family, along with a simple craft project that will have you talking about the places and practices that bring peace to your life. The recipe, a wonderful Mango Cucumber Gazpacho, will sweep you into the Spanish milieu of Ferdinand, while introducing you to cool, new summer flavors.

Over the past seven months, my own family has served as the guinea pig for all the many different book club collections we've offered so far. My kids (at least, the 5 and 8 year olds) have begun to ask when they get to have the next book club night. They have invited neighbors and friends to participate in some of the activities. And they have begun to approach almost any book as a conversation starter; almost any activity as something they can turn into a gift or act of kindness.

Their enthusiasm makes makes it so much fun to gather fresh book titles for the 2014 list!

Then we received this feedback from one of our wonderful big-hearted families.  Jennifer wrote:

This is such a great idea! I got the 3-month subscription for my family &we've enjoyed it so much I just ordered 2 more subscriptions as birthday gifts for my nieces. My kids are 5, 7, and 9 - they have all enjoyed the books so far and they can all relate to the discussion questions in their own way. Love it!

How fantastic to know the big hearted families book club has helped create meaningful, joyful family time for others!

I'm sorry we will no longer be able to offer all of the book club materials for free, but I do hope you'll consider becoming a subscriber.

And in the meantime, look back on the first 6 months and pick up any months you may have missed!

Big Hearted Families Book Club: The Great Kapok Tree

Transform  family night into a creative, fun, book-centered kindness practice! June 2013 book club - kapok tree The book for June 2013 is The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry.

This incredible book will help your family look deep into nature. The vivid illustrations and simple story show us the beauty, vitality and interdependence  of the Amazon rain forest, and help us understand why it is so fragile.

The more we know about the natural world, the more we are inspired to protect it. With this in mind, we invite you to spend time observing the wilderness in your own neighborhood. Get to know your natural neighbors and practice the art of observation. Then create a personal photo journal.

This month’s recipe celebrates biodiversity, too, with a zesty summer Black Bean Mango Quinoa salad from The Kids Cook Monday.

If you are a subscriber, you have already received your beautiful book, the following materials, plus a shopping list, book suggestions for older readers, and a fun BHF book mark right in the mail.

Thank you for supporting our nonprofit work!

If you would like to subscribe, head on over to our SHOP to get started.

If you already own the book or would rather use your library, we invite you to download these materials for your own big-hearted family night! When you’re done, join us back here and share your stories. Or join the discussion on our Facebook page!

great kapok tree

 

The Book Discussion: Conversation for The Great Kapok Tree

 

 

 

 

Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad

 

The Recipe: Black Bean Mango Quinoa provided by our friends at The Kids Cook Monday and created by Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian and author of The Plant-Powered DietVisit  The Kids Cook Monday for more great recipes for your young chefs.

 

 

spring 019

 

The Kindness Activity:  Neighborhood Wildlife Photo Journal.  The more we notice and learn about the ecosystems around us, the more we will understand about the big idea of interdependence.

Big-Hearted Families Book Club: Rabbit & Squirrel

Transform  family night into a creative, fun, book-centered kindness practice!April 2013 The book for May 2013 is Rabbit & Squirrel: A Tale of War and Peas by Libba Moore Gray.

Peace is a state of mind as well as a state of the world. This entertaining book demonstrates how jumping to conclusions, misunderstandings and revenge can lead to can lead to all out war. 

This book is a great springboard for conversations about how we can each create peace in our own lives. You'll even create a family work of art to remind yourselves of your commitment to peace.

Plus, enjoy your veggies - the one good example Rabbit & Squirrel offer - with a great recipe from The Kids Cook Monday.

If you are a subscriber, you have already received your beautiful book, the following materials, plus a shopping list, book suggestions for older readers, and a fun BHF book mark right in the mail.

Thank you for supporting our nonprofit work! If you would like to subscribe, head on over to our SHOP to get started.

If you already own the book or would rather use your library, we invite you to download these materials for your own big-hearted family night! When you’re done, join us back here and share your stories. Or join the discussion on our Facebook page!

rabbit and squirrel and tale of war and peas

 

The Book Discussion: Conversation Starters for Rabbit & Squirrel.

 

 

 

 

Veggie-ful Croissants

 

The Recipe: Veggie-full Croissants provided by our friends at The Kids Cook Monday and created by Michelle of The Kids Cook MondayVisit  The Kids Cook Monday for more great recipes for your young chefs.

 

 

 

peace quilt

 

The Kindness Activity:  Family Peace Quilt.  Spend time with your family creating a visual pledge to build peas - er  - peace.

Big Hearted Families Book Club: Miss Tizzy

Transform  family night into a creative, fun, book-centered kindness practice!  1 book + 1 recipe + 1 kindness activity

The book for April 2013 is Miss Tizzy by Libba Moore Gray.

Living in community with others may not feel like a special act of kindness, but the everyday joys we share with one another make life beautiful. And simple rituals with friends can be an incredible comfort during difficult times.

Miss Tizzy, with all of her colorful daily adventures, shares true friendship with the children in her community. When she becomes ill, the children offer her strength and support using all she taught them. Having fun with friends can be its own act of kindness.  Learn to share everyday joys with your community in these heart-warming activities.

Plus, you get to experiment with natural food coloring in the wonderful recipe provided by our friends at The Kids Cook Monday and created by Donna Kelly of Apron Strings.

If you are a subscriber, you've already received your beautiful book, the following materials, plus a shopping list, book suggestions for older readers, and a fun BHF book mark right in the mail.

Thank you for supporting our nonprofit work! If you would like to subscribe, download our order form here: BHF Order Form.

If you already own the book or would rather use your library, we invite you to download these materials for your own big-hearted family night! When you’re done, join us back here and share stories of your family night. Or join the discussion on our Facebook page!

Miss Tizzy by Libba Moore Gray

 

The Book Discussion: Conversation Starters for Miss Tizzy

 

 

 

 

Heart Beet Cookies

 

The Recipe: Heart Beet Cookies provided by our friends at The Kids Cook Monday and created by Donna Kelly of Apron Strings. Visit  The Kids Cook Monday for more great recipes for your young chefs.

 

 

 

Miss Tizzy Kindness Activity

 

The Kindness Activity:  Friendly Flower Cards Consider making the cards ahead of time, then attaching them to flowers and sharing them on May Day!

Big Hearted Families Book Club: Amos & Boris

Amos and Boris - March 2013 - Small
Amos and Boris - March 2013 - Small

Transform  family night into a creative, fun, book-centered kindness practice! The book for March 2013 isAmos & Boris by William Steig.

This epic story of friendship is simply spellbinding. It has its roots in Aesop’s classic fable of the lion and the mouse, though in Steig’s rendition the backdrop is a harrowing ocean adventure.

Your family will discover how a tiny mouse can, in fact, come to the rescue of the whale he loves. How, you might ask? A little community organizing can solve almost any problem!  Make change yourself with our little animal advocacy project.

Plus, you’ll LOVE the wonderful recipe provided by our friends at The Kids Cook Monday and created by Cate of Tribecca Yummy Mummy.

If you are a subscriber, you've already received your beautiful book, the following materials, plus a shopping list, book suggestions for older readers, and a fun BHF book mark right in the mail.

Thank you for supporting our nonprofit work! If you would like to subscribe, download our order form here: BHF Order Form.

If you already own the book or would rather use your library, we invite you to download these materials for your own big-hearted family night! When you’re done, join us back here and share stories of your family night. Or join the discussion on our Facebook page!

amos and boris - steig
amos and boris - steig
Sesame Spinach Dumplings
Sesame Spinach Dumplings

The Recipe: 

Sesame Spinach Dumplings Recipe provided by our friends at

The Kids Cook Monday 

and created by Cate of Tribecca Yummy Mummy.

animal advocacy
animal advocacy

The Kindness Activity: 

Amos & Boris Animal Advocacy Project.

Learn about your favorite endangered animal and advocate for them!

3 Service Projects to Welcome Spring

Perhaps we can make spring happen through sheer force of will. Up here in Minnesota, the world is white as far as we can see. Little Miss 5 shook her head at it this morning, declaring "I will not be going outside again unless it's spring or fall or summer. I'm done with snow now."

Are you also longing for the joys of spring? Or are you shaking your head at us northerners, wondering why we live way up here?

Either way, here are three sweet and simple projects that will have you thinking spring and sharing kindness as a family, even if your weather isn't cooperating.A man sowing seeds

  1. Seeds for Change: Collect seeds to send to families who want to start their own gardens, thus providing a supply of fresh, nutritious produce. There's no better time to help people prepare to garden.
  2. Plant a Row for the Hungry: Designate the bounty from one row of your garden to donate to a local food shelf. Buy your seeds now, along with peat pots (or make pots from objects in your recycle bin),  and start your seeds inside.
  3. Birdseed Cookies: Making a batch of bird treats is a fun way to care for your local bird population. Is it me, or have the birds been singing louder, longer, and more hopefully lately. Spring is in the air, and this is a great way to welcome it into full swing!

 

 

Connecting with Kindness

The fall schedule is bursting into full swing, and the best tool I've found to make our family time meaningful is kindness. I'm not trying to be overly precious, or trite. Or predictably the Big-Hearted Families ambassador you all know I am.

I'm being honest. We (regrettably) still haven't taken on any of the larger volunteer projects on my to-do list: a Meals on Wheels route, a monthly shift at the food shelf, or visiting the local nursing home. Maybe as things settle down, we'll carve out time for that. But here are three simple things we've have done in the last two weeks that have brought our whole family closer together:

1 book + 1 recipe + 1 kindness activity
1 book + 1 recipe + 1 kindness activity

1) September Book Club fun:Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun has been a around in our home for a long time. It was fun to dig it out as part of the September book club.  This book lends itself to rich discussion, especially at the start of the school year. Plus, the activity for this month, creating a kindness chain, has made each evening special.

The kids are sharing many small moments of their school day that they might not otherwise bring up, and even us grown ups are sharing more with the kids than usual. It's been a great way to connect.

2) Take and Bake: A few of our new neighbors have had some major life events recently. Baking bread or muffins and gathering a few garden goodies to share has been a great way to get to know our community a little better, share a little homemade, homegrown love, and spend some messy time in the kitchen as a family.

3. Upcycling. Check out our new Pinterest board, Kids Can Up-cycle.  In preparation for next month's book club activity, we've been exploring way to reuse t-shirts, and talking about the importance of keeping everything we can out of the landfill. This has sparked a lot of creativity, and a few notable improvements in our home recycling system.

Even when it seems there is no time for a BHF project, keep in mind that small kindness activities like these can be part of the regular schedule and make family time both joyful and meaningful.