Friday, May 23, 2008

More Reading with Kids

My friend, Linda, is a reading specialist for the Manitowoc Public School District. She works hard to stay current on all the latest research about reading. She shares the information with teachers district wide, and I am often the lucky recipient of her bits of wisdom. Over the years, I have discovered many new authors and books through Linda. She even invited me into her classroom one spring. I chatted with many of her 4th grade students one-on-one. They were so eager to talk about books, and each student had a favorite book handy, to show me, and to describe in enthusiastic detail.

Some time ago, Linda shared the following poem with me. It seems a nice follow up to the previous blog about reading with children. It was written by the US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins.

First Reader
I can see them standing politely on the wide pages
that I was learning to turn.
Jane in a blue jumper, Dick with his crayon brown hair,
playing with a ball or exploring the cosmos
of the backyard, unaware they are the first characters,
the boy and girl who begin fiction.
Beyond the simple illustration of their neighborhood
the other protagonists were waiting in a huddle;
frightening Heathcliff, frightened Pip, Nick Adams
carrying a fishing rod, Emma Bovary, riding into Rouen.
But I would read about the perfect boy and his sister
even before I would read about Adam and Eve, garden and gate,
and before I heard the name Gutenberg, the type
of their simple talk was moving into my focusing eyes.
It was always Saturday and he and she
were always pointing at something and shouting, "Look!"
pointing at the dog, the bicycle, or at their father
as he pushed a hand mower over the lawn,
waving at aproned mother framed in the kitchen doorway,
pointing toward the sky, pointing at each other.
They wanted us to look but we had looked already
And seen the shaded lawn, the wagon, the postman,
We had seen the dog, walked, watered, and fed the animal,
And now it was time to discover the infinite, clicking
Permutations of the alphabet's small and capital letters.
Alphabetical ourselves in the rows of classroom desks,
We were forgetting how to look, learning how to read.
Billy Collins has surely given us a lot to think about. This is Memorial Day weekend. There will a much to see...the parade, the somber, respectful reminder of those who fought, and currentluy fight, so that we can live comfortably, without fear. Signs of spring are everywhere, along with the happy bounce of walkers no longer burdened by layers of wooly stuff. Maybe we all should just close the books for a day or so, turn off the TV, walk outside and LOOK.