Friday, October 2, 2009

Read To Me Corner

Last weekend I volunteered to read to children at the New Mexico State Fair, through the Albuquerque Business and Education Compact (ABEC)’s “Read To Me” program. My assignment was to lay out a blanket and a bunch of books by a tree and a sign that said “Read To Me Corner.” I arrived at the designated spot, the “Kids’ Pavilion,” to find that it was placed smack in the middle of a lot of entertaining activities for children – the petting zoo, an outdoor science museum with experiments like making bubbles out of a humongous wand, a tunnel to walk through, games to play, and an arts and crafts tent right beside me. Even though my love for reading and books started at a very young age, my first thought was, “What kind of a kid is going to want to have a book read to him when there’s all of this other fun stuff to do?”

The kids proved me wrong. And they proved to me that reading as a form of education and entertainment is as alive and well as when I was their age. My first “customer” was a baby named Theo, who literally crawled over to my blanket and pounded his hands over the row of books I was still laying out. His parents laughed and told me he loved books. He sat cross-legged and enthralled while I read him Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You'll Go! and when I read the line, “you have feet in your shoes,” he grabbed his tiny little shoes.

A girl of about seven sat straight and tall, while I read her a book called Recycle Every Day! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. The book is about a bunny rabbit named Minna who has a school assignment and contest to make a poster about recycling. It’s very entertaining but shows the rabbit family recycling every day of the week, and I was afraid that my listener might start to lose patience. Instead, she listened carefully until I finished the book and Minna had won the contest for her poster that said “Re-re-re-member to re-re-re-cycle every day.”

I loved seeing the children interested in reading, and I must admit I enjoyed browsing the book selection (which was provided by ABEC). Many of the children loved the book Emma Kate by Patricia Polacco, which is about a little girl and her imaginary best friend elephant (the illustrations are superb). Another favorite – one little boy knew it by heart and said his teacher read it to him – was Beatrice Doesn't Want To, by Laura Numeroff. It was about a little dog who doesn’t want to go to the library with her big brother, until she discovers a book she likes about roller-skating. Another good one was A Pocket Can Have a Treasure in It, by Kathy Stinson.

I would like to volunteer to read books to children again in the future because I think it’s something that both I and the kids enjoy. I am not sure if all state fairs have something similar to a Read To Me corner, or only New Mexico. I found this opportunity by visiting the mayor’s website of upcoming events that need volunteers – at the Mayor’s Office of Volunteerism and Engagement. But there were many similar opportunities at – it’s just that many of them require a weekly commitment that I honestly don’t have the time to give right now. I think that projects like this are great volunteer opportunities for people who love to read and write! It’s refreshing to be able to bring a smile to a child’s face by doing what you love to do anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment