Eight Tips for Helping Young Readers Bloom

Spring is here, so many people are planning and prepping to work in their gardens. In many places, spring flowers are already blooming or daffodils and other spring bulbs are poking up out of the warming soil. Given the right conditions and care, gardens can be thriving, vibrant places full of life. And the same is true for young readers! So, to celebrate spring and gardens and reading, here are ten tips to help your young readers bloom and thrive, along with some garden photos for some garden inspiration. 1. Just like flowers, budding readers blossom in their own time. Encourage them, but let them grow at their own pace. 2. Gardens need the right nutrients to grow, and this can vary depending on the plant. The same is true for young readers. Fertilize young readers minds with consistent, nutrient-rich mind food. In other words, offer a variety of books! But remember, not all growing readers will respond to the same books the same way.  Cone flowers and black-eyed Susans in Rebecca'

Book-Inspired Art Project: Watercolor Moon

by Rebecca J. Gomez

Do you have a favorite picture book about the moon? There are a lot of good ones, such as Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes; Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline; and Snowball Moon by Fran Cannon Slayton, illustrated by Tracy Bishop. But one of my favorite moon books is If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Jaime Kim. Below is a review I wrote for the book when it originally published:

In this informational picture book, a sleepy little girl says to the moon, "I wish I could do exactly nothing, just like you." But the moon answers back, explaining to the little girl--and the reader--that what looks like nothing is actually quite something! With simple phrases and imagery that young ones will be sure to understand, If You Were the Moon explains the mystery of the moon and the role it plays in its place in the sky. Factual blurbs throughout the book explain the science behind each wonder described on the page, and a short glossary at the back defines several possibly unfamiliar terms.

The accompanying illustrations make the meaning on each spread clear. They are dark like the night sky, with a quiet, restful feel that makes this book a good choice for bedtime. I especially like the spread about nocturnal animals because of the warm colors and stark contrasts, which make for a stunning visual.

I read this book again recently, as part of my preparation for the Summer Challenge's "Night Time" week, and decided to create a simple art project inspired by the book's cover. This watercolor moon art is the perfect follow-up activity to reading and discussing any book about the moon!

This project uses ordinary water color paints and salt. The salt is sprinkled onto the wet paint so that, when it's dry, it has a unique texture. Read on to see how to make a watercolor moon of your own. 

You will need:

  • Watercolor paper or mixed media art paper
  • Two sheets of black card stock or construction paper (Note: Use any paper you have on hand, though the recommended paper will accept the water/paint better, with limited warping.)
  • Watercolor paints
  • Paint brush
  • Cup of water
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Table salt
  • Pencil
  • Circle template (I used a large peanut butter lid)
  • White crayon (optional)


  1. Gather all your supplies.
  2. Using a circle template, draw your moon on the watercolor paper.
  3. "Paint" the entire circle with plain water. Make sure it is plenty wet!
  4. Use a very wet paintbrush to dip into one color of paint, then quickly drop a few drops of watercolor paint onto your moon. The drops should begin to spread into the wet paper. If you like, you can spread the paint a bit with your brush. Be sure to leave some white space. Repeat with a second color if you want. 
  5. Generously sprinkle table salt all over your painted moon, using a little extra on the wettest spots. Then allow the moon to dry completely on a flat surface. Be patient, it could take a while. (Tip: To hurry up the drying process, you can use a cool hair dryer set on low.)
  6. Once the moon is COMPLETELY dry, brush off the salt. The paper may feel a little rough, and that's okay!
  7. Cut the moon out and admire its beauty!
  8. Take one sheet of black paper and cut a tree branch shape or two.
  9. Glue the moon onto the other sheet of black paper. Then, glue the tree branch in place over the moon. If you like, use a white crayon to create stars in the night sky.