One of my favorite memories at Como Public Library was Community Helper Day. All the little first graders from Como Elementary would file into the library for a tour. Activities included throwing things in the book drop (always fun), scanning books to make the beep, and pushing the book cart around. They left with a book bag filled with coloring sheets, crayons, candy, and a library card application.
At the time, Como Main Street included the police station, firehouse, city hall, library, doctor/dentist office, restaurants, and bank. You could watch the little ones centipede to each building and wave at the helpers who greeted them smiling. It felt like an important day.
Cloverleaf books’ Community Helpers series, published by Millbrook Press, uses a unique author/illustrator combination to assure uniformity. Half of the eight books were written by either Gina Bellisario or Bridget Heos. The four illustrators have two books to their credit and are Cate Atkinson, Mike Moran (no relation), Ed Myer, and Kyle Poling. All illustrators obeyed a round, long, or triangular face rule and maintained the same color pallet.
These picture books all begin with Let’s Meet a … followed by the corresponding helper. Helpers include a construction worker, dentist, doctor, firefighter, librarian, police office, teacher, and veterinarian. Since there are eight, teachers can read two a day for four days with a tour at the end of the unit.
The series format is uniform and includes three chapters, an activity, a glossary, and further readings. The chapters for Librarian are “The Spy,” “No Shushing Allowed!” and “A Computer Wizard.” The activity is finding a book and the glossary has words like catalog, e-book and troubleshoot. The further reading section suggests the website kidsclick.org.
I particularly like the Construction Worker book. They are building a new school for the children complete with a playground. Oh, but that is in the future. Right now it is a mound of dirt where they can play "King on the Mountain" wearing fake-plastic orange construction hats.
The activity is to construct a graham cracker house using peanut butter. What a mess! I would read this book in the afternoon and reserve the activity for close to last bell. A little less messy would be to hand out blue construction paper and let them draw up blueprints for the house using chalk.Don’t forget we look up to you, community helpers. After reading this series, you will have even more admiring eyes.