Love is a choice, tolerance is a choice, and both take courage—courage to reach out to someone who is unknown, but also courage to examine our own biases and preconceived notions. Is it possible that (gasp!) we could be wrong about something or someone?

This week’s Storytime Short features the book The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates. This is a simple yet poignant example of how, if we are willing, we can expand our hearts and invite all sorts of different kinds of people into our lives.

To go along with this idea, the Ashland, Eagle Point, and Gold Hill libraries are offering a “The Day You Begin” Take and Make Kit inspired by the book by Rogue Reads author Jacqueline Woodson. This kit is an opportunity for children and families to learn about and appreciate the differences in ourselves and in others and get to know someone better. Use the kit to create a valentine you can share with someone you might feel shy or awkward around because you don’t know them well enough.

Like a lot of the crafts I introduce in these blog posts, this one is pretty open-ended. The kit contains a variety of heart themed craft supplies to make a traditional card. Many of these supplies can be bought relatively cheaply at the dollar store. The following is a more “out of the box” approach, and with a few basic supplies, can easily be recreated at home.  My hope is that you and your child just have fun with it, and see where your muse leads you.

The basic supplies you’ll need are:

  • Glue
  • Paper
  • Markers or crayons

If you want to make it a project, you can also gather up old magazines, coffee filters, tissue paper leaves, etc.

I didn’t have any card stock on hand, so I chose to use plain, white printer paper. I found a sheet folded in half to be a pretty daunting size, so I chose to fold it half again, and work with a quarter sheet.

For me, any excuse to get some fresh air is a good excuse, so I wandered around my yard for a while looking for things to embellish my card. I always enjoy working with more natural materials, so as you can see, the front of my card consists of a lot of different greenery.

When I had my design figured out, I weighted it down with some books so the leaves would flatten a bit. That gave me some time to think about what message I was going to write on the inside of my card, and then I had a brainstorm!

I wrote the message in big letters on a paper bag.

Then I went through old magazines and tried to find letters to match.

As a mother of three, I can understand that this might be a little tedious and time consuming, but if you make it a game, it can be a lot fun. I could just imagine myself (back when my children were small) going through magazines together hunting for letters. It’s also an excellent opportunity to review letters with younger children and practice reading and spelling skills with older children.

If you don’t have the time for the above or have any magazines on hand, writing out the message is also a great option.

Now it’s time to work on the front of my card. I took about a teaspoon of Elmer’s glue and added 1/8th teaspoon of water. This is a little fiddly and messy, so just dab the glue on in big globs and carefully spread it over the leaves.

I added a piece a clingwrap to the front and let it dry for a bit. This gave me a chance to wipe up any spilled glue and clear up the magazines and paper scraps left lying around.

Now it was time to move on the inside of the card. Very carefully (with the cling wrap still on), I opened up the card. I still had quite a bit of glue left, so I dabbed a tiny bit where the first letter would go and carefully transferred it from the paper bag to the card. I suggest taking one letter off the bag at a time. This way, your child can see where the next letter should go. (Be mindful of spacing, however; you don’t want to run out of room on your card.)

After that, it’s all hearts and roses. You can add a few little store-bought hearts or stickers, or draw your own. Don’t forget to address the card to the person you are giving it to, and, of course, don’t forget to sign your name!

For an easy tutorial on how to create your own envelope, visit Creativebug, one of the many neat data base services our library offers.

Last, but not least, check out this week’s Storytime Short featuring the book The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates. For even more stories about love and learning and how to share it, visit the library catalog and look for the list titled Share the Love. —Lyn Heerema