Read-In Week 2012

As Read-In Week 2012 wraps up, I was delighted to have visited my daughter’s elementary school as a guest reader. It was something I did last year when she was in Kindergarten, and I wanted to do it again, this time with her Grade One class. As it turned out, the school wanted me to read to a couple of other classes as well. Soon one class turned into five classes and, long story short, I was in for an extended storytime. Just as well, as I was having the hardest time trying to narrow down my selections. Working in the Children’s Library has its advantages. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to read to each class, but I knew that it wouldn’t be until I got started that I would know for sure which books I would pull from the sack. I was a little worried going in, but I had my coffee, I had a sack full of books, and I was ready to have some fun! Here, then, is what turned out to be my “set list” for Read-In Week.

My itinerary for the morning

Special Needs Class (Grades One, Two, and Three)

Opening rhyme: “One Is a Giant”

One is a giant who stomps his feet,

Two is a fairy, nice and sweet,

Three is a mouse who crouches small,

Four is a great big bouncing ball,

Five is a king who wears a crown,

Six are the children who all sit down

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

Mortimer by Robert Munsch

Are You a Horse? by Andy Rash

Grade One (part one)

Opening rhyme: “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!”

Zoom, zoom, zoom!

We’re going to the moon!

Zoom, zoom, zoom!

We’re going to the moon!

If you want to take a trip,

Climb aboard my rocket ship.

Zoom, zoom, zoom!

We’re going to the moon!

In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,

Blast Off!

13 Words by Lemony Snicket

Flight of the Dodo by Peter Brown

Grade Two (part one)

Opening rhyme: “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom”

Nothing by Jon Agee

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas

Grade Two (part two)

Opening rhyme, “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!”

Beware of the Frog by William Bee

Nothing by Jon Agee

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Grade One (part two)

Opening rhyme: “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!”

More Bears! by Kenn Nesbitt

Flight of the Dodo by Peter Brown

Where the Wild Things Are (recited) by Maurice Sendak

My wonderfully indecisive sack of stories

By the end I was spent, but I was so glad I went. It was fun to read to the students, and they did a great job interacting with the stories. One of the highlights of my visit was having my daughter help me read 13 Words. I read the story while she was responsible for the thirteen feature words. I was so proud to have my daughter stand beside me in front of her Grade One class reading words like despondent, haberdashery, and mezzo-soprano.

I wish to thank the students and staff of Lorelei Elementary School for inviting me and making me feel so welcomed. I thoroughly enjoyed the morning and I hope I can come again.

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We’ll eat you up we love you so!

This week, Maurice Sendak died at the age of 83. Sendak was the author and illustrator of several books including Where the Wild Things Are, In the Midnight Kitchen, Pierre (A Cautionary Tale), and Outside Over There. I grew up with Where the Wild Things Are. My parents read this story many times to me, I read it to myself, and now I read it to my children. Last Halloween I even dressed up as one of the wild things.

I heard of Sendak’s passing on Tuesday morning and knowing that I had a storytime that day, I had decided to read Where the Wild Things Are. Imagine my disappointment when I arrived to the library and discovered that we had no copies available. I was upset that I had my own copy at home but didn’t think to bring it with me, assuming that we’d have at least one copy available. As I went around setting up the library for opening, I found myself reciting the story in my head, and as I recounted it through to the end I knew what I would do; I would tell the story from memory. Suddenly I remembered last week’s fiasco with my less than stellar improvisation, but this was different. These weren’t my words, these were Maurice’s words; and yet, there was more to it than that. As I went over the story again and again, and as I started to speak the words out load, knew that if I were to tell this story to the children then Maurice’s words would have to become my words; and as I thought back to my youth and the all the times I had read the story to my children, I found that indeed, the words were becoming mine.

Tuesdays we offer a storytime for child care groups. Usually we get a big crowd in, and I was excited to share this story with them. A fellow staff member asked if I wanted to practice telling the story to her, and as I did I found myself becoming more and more comfortable as I took on more and more ownership of the words. Finally, it was time to gather the children into the programme room; but where were all the children? There was only on small group of five when usually we have several groups that can run into the twenties, thirties, or more. I won’t lie by admitting that this was a bit of a let down and that it did hurt my pride. I stopped short in my lamentations, though, as I remembered that this wasn’t supposed to be about me. I was doing this in honour of a brilliant author and illustrator who had created one of my all time favourite books; and while I had prepared for a larger, more dramatic presentation, I found instead the perfect opportunity to deliver an intimate and personal telling of a wonderful story. I shared Maurice’s story, my story, our story, and it felt wonderful to have the children roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth and roll their terrible eyes and show their terrible claws. I now know that even if I cannot find the book, the story will always be with me.

As I write this, I am looking at the cover of Where the Wild Things Are. There is something beautiful and serene about the image of the wild thing sitting amongst the trees, eyes closed, as a boat bobs in the water in the background. Is he dreaming, and if so, what could he be dreaming about? Whose boat is it? It looks like Max’s private boat, yet there’s no name on it. Maybe this boat belongs to the reader. Maybe this is my boat, or my children’s boat, or your boat. Maybe this boat waits for all of us to sail off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year…

… to where the wild things are.