For the past 12 years, I have been invited to read to kids at Riverside Elementary School for February’s “I Love to Read Month.” The school invites “celebrity readers” in the community to spend 20-30 minutes to read to one of the classes. The object is to encourage children to read through the use of the celebrity’s role model.
I don’t see myself as a celebrity, but anything I can do to help a student get motivated to read is well worth the time to do. Reading is very important and is a skill they’ll need to live the rest of their life.
It’s always so fun to see how excited the kids are when Judy Kringen, Riverside’s media secretary, announces who is going to read. Over the years, I’ve pretty much read to all grade levels and they’ve always been respectful and courteous to me. It’s fun to hear their thoughts on the book and always interesting to hear their questions.
On Wednesday, I read “St. Patrick’s Day from the Black Lagoon” by Mike Thaler to Mr. Johnson’s fourth grade class. I thought with St. Patrick’s Day coming up it would be appropriate. They loved it. The book was perfect for getting the kids involved in the story and asking them about their St. Patrick’s Day family traditions and what type of projects they’ll be doing for school on that holiday.
At the end of the reading, the students had a chance to ask questions about my job as a newspaper reporter. The questions are pretty varied by grade level. Most of the time, students talk about how they’ve been in the newspaper and about other people they know who’ve been in the paper. The questions usually revolve around how I get story ideas.
But this time that was not the case. I had one fourth-grader ask me about the Sebeka man who went missing. Wow. I thought it was great that the student must have read the newspaper in the last week, but a touchy story for me to discuss with a fourth-grader. Before I could say anything other students started to talk about how the man was sick, etc. I started to tell the students that it was a sad story where the man had died. And then luckily for me, Mrs. Kringen told the kids that it was time to go to their computer lab. Uff-da.