Several weeks ago I told you that I would be celebrating American Education Week by participating as a guest reader in a third grade classroom at Bancroft Elementary School in the Kennett Consolidated School District. Here’s an update:
Prior to the date of the event, I asked my colleague and friend, Dr. Dan Darigan, if he would select some titles for me to choose from to share with the children. Dan is a member of the faculty in the Department of Literacy in the College of Education here at West Chester University. He is an expert on children’s literature and a member of the Newbery Award Selection Committee. (The Newbery Medal is the top literary award in children’s literature and is given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.)
Dan brought along several titles; I chose to read Raisel’s Riddle with story by Erica Silverman and illustrations by Susan Gaber. From inside the book jacket: “Erica Silverman’s lively retelling of the Cinderella story portrays a heroine for whom knowledge is as essential as love. In striking paintings, Susan Gaber captures all her beauty, both external and internal.”
I arrived at school early enough to gather with the other readers – school board colleagues, district and school administrators, local business owners, local elected officials, and members of law enforcement. We networked very briefly before we made our way to the auditorium to meet escorts who would take us to our classrooms. My escort, a very friendly third-grader, walked me down the long hallway to Ms. Miller’s classroom.
I was prepared not only with a copy of Raisel’s Riddle, but another book, a Newbery Medal winner from the Bancroft library, a text with a reproduction of the medal right on the cover.
I held up the Newbery winner and asked the children if anyone knew what the medal on the cover signified. To my delight, four or five hands went up. They knew it was for the “best children’s book of the year.” I told them that they were in for a treat because “the book I brought to read to you today was chosen just for you by my friend Dan, who also gets to help choose the Newbery Medal winner.” They thought that was just about the coolest thing.
Before I read Raisel’s Riddle, I told them to listen carefully because they would probably realize that they had heard the story before and that they should raise their hands when they knew what story it resembled. Just as the clock in the story was striking twelve, a student raised her hand and told us all that the story was the same as Cinderella. The look of realization that appeared on her face before she raised her hand was priceless.
I got to spend 45 minutes or so with Ms. Miller’s third grade class. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and so did her students, it seemed to me. The morning reaffirmed for me the important responsibility educators assume each day as they work to prepare a new generation of citizens for active participation in the world that will be waiting for them when they become adults.
I hope you had the opportunity to read to (or otherwise interact and engage with) school children for American Education Week. If you didn’t, why not do it today? Heck, do it today anyway, and tomorrow. Their future depends on it.
Until next time…