“We traveled with a wonderful tutor, Rose Fine, who taught us a great deal and made sure we did our lessons. It was Rose who instilled in me a love of books and literature that sustains me today. I read everything I could get my hands on. New cities meant new places to shop. We loved to shop, especially in bookstores and departments stores.”
“I love to read. I wish I could advise more people to read. There’s a whole other world in books. If you can’t afford to travel, you travel mentally through reading. You can see anything and go anyplace you want by reading.”
Young minds are so very impressionable. I was reminded of that the other day as I watched children of all ages going in and coming out of a branch library in our town. Mothers and Fathers, Grandmothers and Grandfathers, carrying toddlers, preschool children whisking by with such energy and enthusiasm. One little girl, Nina she said her name was, no more than three or four years old, delayed only for a few minutes when she caught sight of our little Pomeranian, Casey. Casey adores leaning out of the car window, watching passersby, with absolutely no doubt that someone will stop and say, “OHHH! Look at that cute dog! Is he a puppy? He looks just like a teddy bear! Can I pet him?” And, of course, they do. As she enjoyed visiting with Casey, I asked Nina, “Are you going to the Library to get some books?” “Oh, YES!!!” she replied, a smile showing off the cutest dimples.
“I love being around kids. They notice everything. They aren’t jaded. They get excited about things we’ve forgotten to get excited about anymore. They are so natural, so unselfconscious. They energize me just being around them. They look at everything with such fresh eyes, such open minds. That’s part of what makes kids so creative. They don’t worry about the rules. The picture doesn’t have to be in the center of the paper. The sky doesn’t have to be blue. They are accepting of people, too. The only demand they make is to be treated fairly…and, to be loved. I think that’s what we all want.”
One of the favorite parts of my day with children was STORYTIME. Having returned from our lunch break, we first curled up on a carpeted area in our room, pulled out our personal journals, and wrote. It was a time for dreaming, a remembering time…a little book of our own jottings. Sometimes, it offered a place to sort out troubles. It was ours. No one else got to read it. IT WAS PRIVATE. Finishing that, we each grabbed the book we were reading at the time…and, we escaped into another world…visiting places and getting to know people in our imaginations. For thirty minutes, we stepped into fantasy. If you had asked the kids to choose a favorite part of their school day, most would have chosen this time.
And then…for another half hour, I got to read to them. We traveled with many authors to many places, had many adventures, laughed and cried together. This is one of the most effective strategies in creating READERS. Choose prolific children’s authors from many genres…AND READ. In the thirty-four years I taught, I never met a child who wasn’t mesmerized by STORYTIME. And, over the course of the year, each child found at least one favorite author that provided them with many books and many more adventures.
Role Models are key to a child’s development. As with those little people I saw happily skipping into the library to pick out books, each was led by a significant adult…one who not only expressed the joy of reading…but, showed it. Bedtime stories give children the gift of a lifetime. Michael was moved to include reading to children as part of the CHILDREN’S UNIVERSAL BILL OF RIGHTS in his Oxford Address for the Heal the Kids Initiative…rededicating all of us to the wonder of childhood.
These delightful little sponges, while soaking up life’s magic, teach us…reminding us of the time when we, too, were open to life’s mysteries. As we share the beauty of children’s literature with them, we are renewed. The amazing role model that is Michael Jackson leads the way…for in five decades of living, he never lost sight of the child within.
LOVE THE CHILDREN