Imagine the scene, if you will.

It’s three weeks or so ago last Monday. There I am, sitting semi-comfortably on a vintage sofa at my kids’ school. The parent group meeting’s already running a tad long. (Thankfully, we have a great parent group, so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.)

Our indefatigable madame president rehashes our newly minted plans for a National Reading Month grandparents’ brunch:

“Okay, so, we’ll serve pancakes, eggs, sausage, and fruit, with milk or juice — coffee for the grandparents, for sure. We can call it ‘Books and Brunch.’ Oh, and we’ll also need some fun reading-themed activities for them to do with the kids. This sounds like your area of expertise, Rachel — do you think you could come up with a few ideas?”

At first I’m tempted to mumble a quiet apology and let someone else volunteer, but the feeling passes in less than half a second.

“Absolutely,” I hear myself saying. “Not a problem. I’m sure I can think of something.”

So it goes. When you are completely passionate about reading and kids’ books, you tend to be a sucker for projects like this, and word tends to get out. (I’m sure some of you out there know the feeling.)

Blessedly, thanks to the insider access I have to so many great books here at Eerdmans, the assignment turned out to be both fun and fairly simple.

In case others of you out there may have been conscripted invited to help out with National Reading Month this year, here are the activities I’ll be sharing with my parent group for the upcoming grandparents’ brunch. Feel free to borrow any of these for your own schools, families, and classrooms — or to fire your own ideas back at me in the comments. It’s always good to have a few tucked away for a snowy day in March.

For Grades K-1: Back to Front and Upside Down

Back to Front and Upside Down
Back to Front and Upside Down

Step 1: Read the book. (Optional extra: watch the book trailer.)

Step 2: Share with each other about times you have to ask for help. What comes easily to you? What doesn’t come so easily?

Step 3: Create thank-you cards for your principal or school administrator. Begin with text on the board (just like in Miss Catnip’s class!) that says “Thank you Mr./Mrs./Ms. ____ for all you do!”

Step 4: As you make your card, be sure to ask your teacher and others in the class for help whenever you feel stuck.

Step 5: If you finish your card early, you can color a Back to Front and Upside Down coloring page — but be sure also to offer your help to anyone still working who may need it!

Click to open a printable PDF.
Click to open a printable PDF.


For Grades 2-3: Roger Is Reading a Book

Roger Is Reading a Book
Roger Is Reading a Book

Step 1: Read the book.

Step 2: For each student, print out one copy of the cover and 3-6 copies of the sample “Roger is reading a book” interior page, both found here.

Step 3: Staple the cover and interior pages together as indicated.

Step 4: Fold both ways along the dotted line to create the “spine” of your book.

Step 5: Personalize the alternating pages of your book by choosing, drawing, and writing about your own favorite disruptively noisy activities. Here are some of mine:

  • Rachel is reorganizing her pots and pans.
  • Rachel is losing a pillow fight.
  • Rachel is sanding a vintage mahogany coffee table.
  • Rachel is teaching her baby to sing opera.
  • Rachel is playing “Yankee Doodle” on a slide trombone.

My kids had a few other ideas when we tried this one out at home:

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*Editor’s note: despite how it may look, Roger is not in any mortal peril here. The cannon isn’t loaded.

Step 7: Make sure you end your story with: [Your name] is reading a book. Roger is reading a book.

Click to open a printable PDF.


For Grades 4-5: The Right Word

The Right Word
The Right Word

Step 1: Read the book.

Step 2: Watch a behind-the-scenes interview with illustrator Melissa Sweet describing how she created the unique art for the book.

Step 3: Choose your own favorite word.

Step 4: Write a list of every word you can think of that is similar or in some way related to your favorite word.

Step 5: Look up your favorite word in a thesaurus, and add any extra words you like that may not already be on your list.

Step 6: Look for pictures in a magazine — or draw your own — that somehow illustrate the words on your list.

Step 7: Cut out your pictures and paste them down to make a collage.

Step 8: Hand letter the words of your list in and around the pictures of your collage to make it a true mixed-media masterpiece. (If you want to see some really well done fourth-grade homages to Melissa Sweet’s illustrations, check out the Shore Country Day School Library’s Twitter feed.)

There you have it, then: my super duper National Reading Month “Books and Brunch” activity ideas. I hope my fellow parent group members approve. The grandparents’ brunch takes place next Thursday. (Surf over to the EBYR Facebook page in a week or so, and you may even find some totes adorbs photos from the event.)

Happy National Reading Month, everyone.

Rachel Bomberger
Rachel Bomberger

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About Rachel in Review:

Life for this kid lit enthusiast and working mother of four can be messy. Confusing. Painful. Funny. Breathtakingly beautiful.

Enter the Eerdmans books. So, so many of our books, whether they’re bedtime books for babies or coming-of-age novels for young adults, seem to have a single uncannily common quality about them: they just fit. These wise, wonderful books somehow manage to tie into — and by so doing, help me sort out — the knotty complexities of life as I actually experience them.

Come along with me as I read life, live books, and put the two together. Things around here may occasionally get a bit random, but with a little luck, they’ll never be boring.