August 8, 2011
I've always thought that until kids are 4 or so, birthday parties are more for the parents than the actual celebrant. I mean, do you know any kid who remembers any of their birthdays before that age? I personally don't, but that's never stopped me from having parties for my kids every year. When Kenya turned 3 we threw a big one for him. Since we knew he'd have little to no memory of it, we tried to think of a way to give the celebration more purpose. Instead of asking the invitees for gifts, we suggested people bring a new book to donate to our local children's hospital. The hospital staff was so grateful, we continued doing it yearly in honor of both our kids birthdays. When Kenya turned 4, he got to deliver his birthday books to the hospital himself and really understood how fun and fulfilling it is to give books to those who might not have access to them.
Last year I learned about an incredible non-profit organization called Milk & Bookies that teaches young children how great it feels to give back while celebrating the love of a good book. It promotes both literacy and service learning by providing kids the opportunity to select, purchase and inscribe books that are then donated to their less fortunate peers. Milk & Bookies even helps you make the process easy by sending you a big box full of materials for your party so all your little guests can inscribe their books and get all kinds of great things in return, like great "I Donated" stickers to wear, bookmarks and more. I think it's just about the coolest organization ever!
When we received our Milk & Bookies box, we also decided to make cookies to commemorate one of Kenya and Chloe's favorite books, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie". This is my variation on the traditional oatmeal raisin cookie which uses naturally sweet honey instead of sugar and is packed with so many tender sweet raisins I give them top billing and call it a Raisin Oatmeal Cookie.
The next time you're throwing a birthday for your little one and don't feel like having your house filled with more plastic toys that will just get played with once or twice and forgotten, empower your child and do this for their birthday -- and of course make a batch of these unbelievably delicious cookies!