There are several things I’ve taken away from my time as a Library Assistant in the Children’s Library, but the one that I treasure the most is reading stories to children. Even though I had already been reading to my children at home, it wasn’t until I was thrown into my first storytime at Edmonton Public Library that I discovered I had the ability to read to groups of children, but more than that, I really enjoyed it. Fast forward a few years and I have just finished my annual visit to Lorelei School for Read In Week where I had the opportunity to once again read to my children’s classes. Now I have had some great storytimes, some of which had ended in hugs from the children (the other morning, for example); but nothing compares to the feeling I get when I visit my children’s school.
The week leading up to Read In Week was punctuated by a countdown of sleeps for Graeme. “How many sleeps for you to read at my school?” I had already made up my mind what I would be reading to Abigail’s grade three class, but I was still deciding on Graeme’s kindergarten class. Then I came across two books that I thought would be perfect, Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won and No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah OHora. It turns out that No Fits, Nilson was quite fitting for the kindergarten class as I walked in during a time out (thankfully, not Graeme). Before I could leave kindergarten I was persuaded to read one more story, and there was no way I could say no to our favourite kindergarten teacher, so I read Jungle Party by Brian Wildsmith. I was also invited to read to the one of the grade one classes (1 of 1). This invitation soon grew to two grade one classes (2 of 1), and by the morning of my visit it was suddenly upped to all three grade one classes (3 of 1) as I happened to run into one of Abigail’s former teachers in the hallway. For the grade ones I had picked out Flight of the Dodo by Peter Brown, which I had done last year, but I really enjoy it, and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, which went over very well with both students and teachers. I knew from last year that the kids would get a kick out of the “poop factor” in Flight of the Dodo, but I was really happy with the reception that Crayons got. In fact, it lead to one of the teachers possibly using the story as the basis for an art project. As for Abigail and the grade three class, I chose The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman. I was introduced to this book by my coworker who read it to his boys at home. The first time I read it I was hooked; and the first time I read it to my children, it was a hit. However, I felt the need to clear the book with Abigail’s teacher first, as it is a bit of an odd story with illustrations that, while wonderful, could be a bit unsettling to some. With great relief the book was cleared with the expectation that it would generate class discussion afterward, which it ultimately did, to my delight! I used the book to illustrate how some stories give the reader most of the information needed, but there are some stories, like The Wolves in the Walls, that leave information out, and it’s up to the reader to try to figure out the answers. For example, how could the wolves fit in the walls? How did the wolves get in the walls in the first place? I brought up the fact that, even though it is said at one point that Lucy goes inside the walls, it’s never explained how she does it. One student asked if the author had written a sequel to this book. I said no, but that it would be fun for students to write their own sequel. They seemed interested in that idea. During recess I got to hang out with the staff and indulge in their tradition of providing delicious treats for guest readers. I was pleased when one of the teachers mentioned that she looks forward to my visit so she can get ideas for new books. I also was approached by a couple of teachers who were not aware that I was reading today and were disappointed that I wasn’t able to come to their class as well. For someone with little self-confidence, it is encouraging to know that I have a skill that is valued by others. By the end of the morning I was tired, but happy to have shared great stories with the students of Lorelei. More than this, though, I got to see the joy and pride I feel for my children reflected in their faces. Nothing can compare with that!