Sunday, October 05, 2008

Reading Poerty

Once each year, I have been signing up to be "mystery reader" in J's class. The teacher sends home a sign up sheet several and parents indicate several alternative dates that might work for them. After a few days, you get assigned your date and time. Performance anxiety usually strikes me the night before. I am wondering how I must conduct myself given my non-existent skills as a reader or story-teller so I can make a half-decent impression on the kids and not be a complete embarrassment to J.

You have to remember these kids are used to having best-selling authors of children's literature come do readings at school every once in a while. The illustrators among them will show them how they create the art work that goes in their books. While I imagine every mystery reading parent does not measure up to these high professional standards, not everyone is as read-aloud challenged as I am. Yet, I love the company of kids and this is by far the easiest way for me to spend some time with them. 

Each year, I find myself being just a little bit more nervous because the kids are older and wiser than they were a year ago. A few days ago, it was my turn again and I decided to read a few poems from Shel Silverstein's Where The Sidewalk Ends. It turned out to be the best book choice I have made so far. A lot of the kids had read this book and even had a few favorites. It was utterly gratifying to have them ask me to read "one more" each time I thought I was done. 

I went into J's class room full of trepidation. J eyed me a little self-consciously from the far end of the room - unlike the rest of the class that had gathered around me, she remained at some distance. By the time I had read the fourth or fifth poem, she walked over to me to help find out a poem that some of her friends were clamoring for. She was just as animated as the rest of the class.

There must be something about that happy place where poetry about growing up and humor meet that can delight any child. Fortunately, there is enough by way of substance in it to obviate the need for a great reader. I left the class knowing the kids had enjoyed their time with me - it was the perfect way to end a week marked up an assortment of adult worries and concerns.

2 comments:

Carrie said...

What a fun experience for you, your daughter, and the class. Kids always seem to love Shel Silverstein's poems. They are funny.

I think having parents come read to the class is a wonderful idea. I always believe every person has something new to bring to a read aloud session. My blog is all about reading books to children. Reading is so important. I am glad to hear of programs like the one at your child's school.

Heartcrossings said...

Carrie - Thanks for stopping by ! I love being the mystery reader and Shel Silverstein's poems are such a great way to spend 15 minutes with a bunch of second graders.