by Anna Gersh

Groundcover board member

In March 2021, one of our board members had the very special opportunity to meet Ms. Marla Baldwin — an afterschool program coordinator at True North Services in Muskegon, Michigan. Ms. Baldwin teaches children, Kindergarten through third grade. She was very interested in the work being done at Groundcover News, and wanted to create a partnership with the paper. After several meetings with our new director, Lindsay Calka, we came up with a plan to give Groundcover vendors — the folks who sell the paper — an opportunity to help kids read and for kids to get to know our vendors! The result was the Groundcover News Online Reading Project. 

Our first enthusiastic vendor participant was Mr. Joe Woods, recently profiled in the May 2021 issue of Groundcover. After a little instruction on best practices for reading to children, Joe was ready to go! We recorded a video which we sent to True North and Baldwin played it for her students. Joe’s natural friendliness and warmth really came across in his reading. He was a big hit with the kids. 

One youngster (GK) said, “He put a lot of action in the book!” Another, DR, said, “He was cool because of his hat and jacket!” 

We were so excited about the project, we shared it with the folks at Ann Arbor District Library. We are very happy to report a developing partnership with our local library system to continue this project and we encourage interested vendors to be readers and teachers. 

Joe read the book “BREAKING NEWS: Bear Alert” by David Bierdrzycki. The following are some of the questions Ms. Baldwin asked following the reading and the children’s responses.

How do you know what season it is? When do bears sleep?

AG (1st grade): Bears sleep in the winter. 

AP (Kindergarten): They walk around and find a place to lay down.

DW (1st): They sleep.

EG (3rd): They hunt and then go to sleep.

GK (3rd): Bears hibernate. Hibernate is sleep. It started off in winter then it became spring.

DR (K): Sleep.

MM (1st): Sleep. 

GK: The bears were asleep in a cave.

If you were asleep all winter and woke up, what would you want to eat?

AP: I would want watermelon, eggs, and chocolate milk.

DW: Just a Coca-Cola.

AG: I would want to eat pizza, hot dogs, orange Fanta, and cupcakes. 

MM: I would eat snow, mashed potatoes, eggs, bacon, sausages and that’s all. 

EG: Sunny side up eggs, bacon, grits, and orange juice, and some fish.

DR: Noodles and pancakes. 

If you saw the bears in the restaurant or on the street, what would you do?

AG: I would rescue the bears and I would feed the bears some carrots, snow and that’s it.

DR: I would call 9-1-1.

EG:  I would kill it and cook it, fry it and call the police.

DW: I would call the police.

MM: I would take them home, put them to sleep and give them hot cocoa and soup.

How would you treat the bears if they came to where you live? 

EG: I would treat him like he was my pet. I would feed them bear food. 

AG: I would cuddle it up in my bed and then I would take him everywhere I go. Then I would take them outside and me and my sisters would play with them.

AP: I would treat it nice and give it some popsicles and put them in the bed and cover them with a blanket and put a pillow under it. I would play Candyland, Guess Who, and the matching game with it. 

MM: I would treat them nicely. 

DW: I would feed them all day hot dogs and all that.

DR: I would treat them nicely and go to the park with them and play on the turn around with them. 

GK: The first thing I would do is find shelter. You don’t know if the bears are mean or not. The second thing I would do is call animal control. The third thing I would do is alert everybody else so they can take shelter. The fourth thing I would do is tell people to make sure they have enough food because you don’t know if animal control is coming or not. The fifth thing is to make sure you have somewhere to sleep and a blanket and a pillow. 

What do you think of this story?

EG: It’s aight. It was funny.

AG: It was cool. The reason why it was cool was because of the bears.

DR: It was good because they dressed up like some people. I felt sad when the bears got arrested. 

DW: I thought the book was funny because the bears sat on top of the truck. The part I liked was when the bears got on the cars.

How did you like the way Mr. Joe read the story? 

EG: I liked it.

AG: I liked it and I loved it. It’s my favorite book. 

MM: I liked when he talked about the bears. 

DR: He was cool because of his hat and jacket.

DW: He was ok because of how he read the story.

GK: I liked how he read it. He put a lot of action into the book!

Watch Joe Woods read “Breaking News: Bear Alert” here.

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