As a school, we are reading the book “The Year of the Dog” by Grace Lin. It’s to prepare the kids for the March visit of the nationally recognized author and illustrator.
Lin writes autobiographical tales about growing up as one of the only Asian kids in her school. The book introduces kids to Chinese art, culture, food and clothes in a fun, accessible way.
The idea of One School, One Read is that as ONE school we will all read ONE book together. To help parents, the PTO sends the book home with a reading schedule. Each week at school, the librarian poses trivia questions (and gives prizes) to the kids that correspond correctly to that week’s chapters. The belief is if kids read the book before Lin arrives they'll all enjoy and benefit more from her visit.
Since this thing called “life” has a way of throwing a wrench into the best of plans, the PTO has a backup. Aren’t we a bunch of over-achieving, used-to-work-now-stay-at-home moms? For kids (and parents) who may not have time to read the book at home, volunteers read at lunch recess.
Signing up to help is a no-brainer. I love to read. I love to volunteer. I love to see my kids during the day.
A. sees me as I enter the lunchroom and waves wildly. ““Are you going to read to us?” he asks as he slips his hand into mine and walks me towards him lunch table. I’ve come early to eat with his class before lunch recess.
“I sure am. Are you going to come listen?”
He cocks his head and considers. “I’m thinking about it.”
That’s all I can hope for. I learned long ago that volunteering in my child's classroom doesn't mean I'll necessarily see my child.
In past weeks, the parent volunteer and kids have settled into a piece of carpet in the kindergarten classrooms. Staying inside is a tough sell with the gorgeous spring-like weather, so I decide to read at the picnic table in hopes of enticing more kids to join me. As soon as I open the book several find a seat at the table. One snuggles into me while another who I know spends daily time in the “thinking chair” leans in and listens attentively.
I’d like to think it’s because of my dynamic reading and theatrical presentation. I attempt a high-pitched voice for Grace, a growly voice for her mother and a whiny, teen-speak for her older sister Lissy. Kindergarteners are an easy audience, but even I know the voices all sound pretty much the same.
It’s not me they want to hear: it’s the words. The kids sit in a state of rapture, spellbound by the story. Is there anything more magical than getting lost in a book?
I pause to ask the kids a question and see A. slink past the table, a stealth ninja, half-spying, half-listening.