"the more that you read, the more things you will know. the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go."

That’s a quote from Dr. Seuss. A rather relevant quote, as it comes directly from the book that was read to me today by a third grader at WVSA ART’s Connection. Yep, I’m volunteering as a reading buddy at a school here in DC.

It’s kind of random actually. The school’s right across the street from my office, and last week on my way back from lunch I saw a bunch of adults reading to kids on the front patio of the school. Obviously, I was drawn in, and today was my first half hour session with Matthew. I’m already excited to go back next Thursday, and I actually wish we had more then half an hour. It’s nice, I can do it on my lunch break, and still have enough time to go eat afterword. It’s a nice break in an otherwise monotonous day at the office. Plus, I’ve always thought that adults need to take a more active role in childhood literacy.

I don’t know what Portland Public schools are like now, but I do know what they were like when I was in grade school. We were really fortunate to have gone to a school that was so focused on literacy, and more importantly made it fun for us – made us want to do it every day. Every kid got to pick out a book from the principle on their birthdays. We did “Bring your own bear night” where all the kids crowded into the school library in their pajamas with their teddy bears and were read to by the school librarian and principle (who were also in their pajamas). We did “Book Baggers” where one night a year the students packed their sleeping bags, pajamas, and books and crowded the gym, where we read ourselves to sleep and were picked up the next morning by our parents. I’m convinced that these programs, combined with a family that read voratiously, are what were responsible for my loving to read. I think it was invaluable. These programs may not even exist anymore (though I hope they do), and if they don’t at least Oregonians are still commited to the SMART program. But that’s just portland, and from what I can tell, many places – DC included, aren’t as lucky.

What I do know, is that Matthew loves to read, and he does it well. He was enthusiastic, taking the lead and showing me his favorite place in the shool to open a book. He was quick to ask questions when he could sense that he was mis-pronouncing something. And when the half hour was up he walked back to class, turned around with a big toothy grin on his face and said “see ya next week!” Keep in mind that before today I was a complete stranger to him.

I can’t remember when the last time was that I read with a kid. I forgot how much I loved it.


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