I have been reading to kids at the same preschool in Weaverville, NC for 12 years. That means the kids that I helped teach how to read at the age of 4 are now 16 years old. This thought just dawned on me, and gives me a feeling of being both old and completely satisfied with my life. When I started this many years ago, I was a nervous wreck, not knowing how the kids were going to receive me, how good was I going to be at telling stories, who knows if they would even listen to me? Well, what I can tell you is that 12 years later I get more out of it than I ever have.
There’s this book, called Big Green Monster. Most of the books that I read I get from the library. The program I read through is called the Preschool Outreach Program. Every other week I pick up a bag of books that have a theme to them and a puppet. Each time I read, I name the puppet something that starts with the same letter of the animal. This is a typical start to my storytelling session.
Me: “I’ve brought a friend with me today. And his name is Marty. Who can tell me what letter Marty starts with? Raise your hand.”
Kids: “Oooh, me, me, me!”
I call on child, “Tell me what letter Marty starts with.”
Kid 1: “Banana!”
Me: “Banana is not a letter, try again, what letter. Sounds like Mmmmm”
I call on another kid. “What letter does Marty start with?”
Kid 2: “A Giraffe”
Me: “Giraffe is not a letter, it’s an animal. M, Marty starts with M. What kind of animal starts with the letter M?”
I call on yet another kid.
Kid 3: “I got new shoes. Wanna see?”
As the year progresses, the children get better with their alphabet, with their words, with their ability to comprehend, it’s really awesome to watch happen. Each time we get through all the books on themes such as Grandparents, Beaches, Feelings, or Scary Stories we then finish with Big Green Monster. Because I’ve been reading this book at this school for so many years, it’s now the book they use for the kids to read to their parents during their graduation. Today, I had a moment for the first time, where the kids read aloud the book to me. They stumbled along, had the first few pages down and needed my help but I was really getting to see my work to help these kids really paying off. I had such an overwhelming feeling that I still can’t put it into words. Reading and development at this age is so important and I definitely felt like a proud mama to this group of 8 kids.
This past November, I started my One Amazing Year, which I have explained in a previous blog post. I have decided that I was going to make my commitment to service and helping others one of my top priorities in life. What I can tell you is that while it’s been a lot of work, I have been having one of the best years of my life. Things are going well for me in many aspects of my life, both professional and personally and I know it’s because I have realized that this is part of my calling in live. To serve others. I am trying to do my part to make this world a better place to live by improving the lives in one or another and I can tell you that there are many people that are doing that for me as well. What an amazing world this place could be if we all just worked from the mindset that we were put on this earth to help others. Maybe we aren’t all destined to do that, but I can tell you that I was, and it’s making my life better for it as well.
Maybe one of these days, I’ll meet one of these kids that I read to when they were 3 or 4. We’ll be at a music festival, or an art show, or in line at the grocery store and they’ll look at me strangely.
Stranger: “You look so familiar, do I know you?”
Me: “I don’t know. Are you from here? What’s your story?”
Stranger: “Yes, born and raised since preschool. I’m from Weaverville. Wait a minute, is your name Story Lady?”
Me: “Why yes, yes it is…”
These kids have given me material for comedy over the years as well. Let’s just say I had no business being in charge of a group of 3 and 4 year olds when I was 22. I thought playing If You’re Happy And You Know, Bang Your Head was a great idea right after snack time. No bueno. I have many more stories like this, but for now, I’ll just keep this blog post more heart and less comedy.