As I walked the path across that familiar but unfamiliar place, my body felt anxious and excited all at the same time. The last time I’d walked those steps, it was a high school and teenagers were strewn about everywhere, doing whatever it is teenagers do during lunch break in a school courtyard. I glanced over at the empty green benches and felt a small sense of melancholy that was soon to be forgotten.
I continued to walk, opened the door, and stepped into a room where the tables were all low, the chairs small, and the pictures made for learning the alphabet; as I turned my head I would see a rug on the floor that was painted in blocks and all the little bodies who owned this room, sat cross-legged on a color.
Their fresh little faces matched their body language, which were twitching with eagerness and thoughts that something different was about to happen, and they knew they had the best seats in the house.
As I moved closer to the center of the room, I was immediately aware that they had been prepped, for my name rushed out of their mouths both in unison and in individual spurts, making me feel as welcome as I had felt in a long, long time.
Thirty days prior, I was invited by a friend of mine, Holle Boykin, who teaches/challenges/loves the 4K class at Greensboro Elementary School - to attend a very special event called JumpStart to Reading Day. She asked if I would like to visit and read to her class, and I promise you, I couldn’t say YES! Fast enough.
Story-telling is a basic human interaction. It’s how we make sense of the world. It encourages creativity and imagination, and it’s important for children to have safe-places and story-books that can make that happen.
When my children were small, it was pretty cool to be the Mommy who could make them react with wild-eyed laughter/giggles and seem mesmerized by funny sounds and created characters. To know that when they climbed-up next to you with their little pile of books, the fun and excitement was about to begin, and memories made.
As it would turn out, I was able to read not one, but three books that morning. Holle is a wonderful teacher, and with her prompting questions after each book-reading, was able to receive relevant responses from interested little minds, as all of the children in her class are so smart, inquisitive, and attentive.
When it came time to leave, they were all waving and telling me goodbye when a little boy named Ruben Francisco rushed-up and slammed his body into mine, creating a full-throttle body hug, ensuing the rest of the class to follow suit, for one of the best group hugs I’ve ever had.