” I can read in red. I can read in blue. I can read in pickle color too.” Dr. Seus
Over the last nine months, as the first readers-in-residence we have had the opportunity to say ” I can read to you” and have little ones say ” I can read to you. too”
Every day there have been surprises. Maybe they are always there, in the Children’s Reading Place our eyes and ears were receptive to the moments. I read “Bob Not Bob” by Audrey Vernick and Garton Scanlon with illustrations by Matthew Cordell to dozens of kids, and after sharing my best nasal voice with seven-year-old Tristan, he said, ” I want to read something to you.” He thought maybe a Geronimo Stilton would be fun but after a couple of pages with me prompting on eight or ten words a page, I suggested that “maybe we should find something else”. He asked “why?” and I explained that if there were more than five words that he didn’t know per page, it might not be the best choice. He found Flat Stanley: The Origin Story by Jeff Brown and we climbed up on the bench in the Greeting Room. Tristan read the first ten pages and then looked up at me and said ” that was better, there were only a couple of words that I didn’t know on each page. ” I agreed and congratulated him on finding something interesting and fun to read to me and reminded him that he had learned twenty new words. ” Wow!” he whispered.
Spoiler Alert – When Stanley Lambchop wakes up one morning, his brother, Arthur, is yelling. A bulletin board fell on Stanley during the night, and now he is only half an inch thick! Amazing things begin happening to him. Stanley gets rolled up, mailed, and flown like a kite.
Every day there has been laughter. When the front door opens and families start arriving, a smile permanently creeps across our faces. Our smiles are reciprocated, and our silliness is copied. Kids and parents feel any uneasiness evaporate and within thirty minutes we are laughing about a line in a book, a picture that was colored or something that we said. According to the CCPA ” Laughter can be obtained through reading a humorous book; playing with children and spending time laughing with friends.
Laughter has a medicinal benefit; it can heal the mind, the body, and the soul. ” When our stress is lowered we are more receptive to the magic that reading brings into our lives.
Every day there are important conversations. The Children’s Reading Place spurs curiosity. ” How did the whale get in the tub?” “Can you recommend a good book about trains?” ” Why does the light change color?” ” Who painted the Canada Room?” ” My daughter is five, and she isn’t interested in reading. How can I help her?” “Do you have any Captain Underpants?” “Do you have any Dork Diaries?” ” Are there any Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or Nimona graphic novels?” “How much time should I spend reading with our son?” ” Are you sure that I get to pick my own book to take home?” ” He is so happy here. What can we do at home to keep him interested?”
Sometimes the answers are easy, and sometimes they lead to wide-ranging conversations. Most of the time, we have an answer, but when we don’t we say ” I’m not sure, what do you think?” Most of the time we just need to be encouraging and helpful without having all the answers.
As this chapter in our lives closes, we will remember the surprises, the laughter, and the conversations. Most of all we will remember the children; Fatima, Ibrahim, Solomon, Mariam, Frankie, Braydon, Flinn, Flynn, Cleo, Bean, Tristan, Isla, Hannah, Pria, Teya, Wyatt, Anna, Monica, Issac, Rosemarie, Joseph, and hundreds of others who mad our term as Readers in Residence richer.
With gratitude and some sadness, we are turning the page to start a new chapter. New readers-in-residence will arrive at the Children’s Reading Place to start their own adventures in reading.
Bob and Jan McInnis