JP Couple’s New Children’s Book Incorporates Face Masks for Kids to Learn Social-Emotional Skills

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Two Boston moms are trying to make masks fun again.

In a pandemic-inspired Kickstarter campaign, Jamaica Plain locals Ricki and Orly Bartour designed a lift-the-flap board book for young children. The twist? The flaps are colorful masks covering images of children’s faces, and lifting them reveals the wearer’s emotion. The project is currently featured as a staff-pick Project We Love on Kickstarter.

The book, Unmasking Feelings, started as an art activity Ricki made with the couple’s 2-year old daughter on a snowy Boston afternoon. By spring, the simple paper prototype had transformed into a print-ready board book. With images of children from every race and ability level, the couple aims to make every young reader see themselves and their families represented.

"While vaccinated adults can start taking off their masks, young children will likely need to wear them a while longer," said Ricki. “We want to empower parents and teachers to have positive conversations about masks, and use this difficult year as an opportunity to build important social-emotional skills.”

Contributions to the Kickstarter project are being accepted through June 6. In turn backers can choose to order one, two or five books as well as a variety of add-on materials, like educational posters, DIY art activities and a Parent’s Guide about teaching kids emotional skills written by a Harvard Graduate School of Education alum.

Click here to learn more about the Unmasking Feelings Kickstarter campaign.