You know, it's a funny thing, blogs. I'm not sure what impression Tollipop would give someone who has never met me, but sometimes I worry I portray myself as this garrulous socialite who spends her days swinging from the chandelier, who throws her head back in peals of silvery laughter and calls everyone darling.
When in fact, I'm quite reserved. I'm somewhat shy. And I can be rather tongue-tied, especially in social settings where small talk is de rigueur.
But when it comes time to read a story, my reserve goes out the window. When it comes time to read a story, I read big or I don't read at all. Meaning, I go for inflection, I go for dynamics, I take a stab at voices, dialects, accents. Of course, half the time my girls end up begging me to "read normal", but that doesn't prevent me from giving Eliza Doolittle an initial run for her money.
So I walked into Izzy's class this morning like it was the Olympics of storytime. I sat down and told the kids a bit about the book, then got right down to business.
One of the great things about Roald Dahl is he wrote stories that lend themselves brilliantly to being read aloud. The words, the syntax, the unfolding of the plot are so eminently pronounceable. There is a sheer joy to the telling of his stories.
And I had those kids. I had those jaded, cynical fifth graders sitting on the edge of their seats. At the part where Mr. Fox makes his nightly excursion from the foxhole, unaware the three farmers are waiting outside with guns drawn, I read with such excruciating suspense that the kids were practically inching forward and sniffing the air themselves. The expressions on their faces said it all. Eyes as big as silver dollars. Mouths agape. Anxious. Relieved. Anxious. Relieved.
And on Izzy's face: the look of trying to conceal the world's biggest smile.
They made me read seven chapters.
And they want me to return and finish the book.
And because I know you are interested, I scoured the room for telltale signs of Gothdom. Not really sure what I was looking for, but I did notice a few kids dressed head to toe in black. For all I know, however, they could have been exchange students from Manhattan.
The thing that mattered most is each and every child was fully engaged in that story. It seemed as if the room was filled with magic.
Some of my happiest childhood memories are of such storytimes and to this day, I love it when someone reads to me. It makes me feel calm and safe. It lets my mind wander to such amazing places. And I love reading to others. I read to my girls almost every night. Sometimes they fall asleep to the sound of my voice which seems, to me, the loveliest thing in the world.
As I looked out over the room of rapt little faces this morning, it was apparent for whom storytime was something of a novelty. Trust me, you can just tell. And I had this sudden urge to keep reading. To just keep on reading so that magical moment of feeling safe and happy and free to wander could go on forever.
p.s. That dreamy painting in the background? Courtesy of the exquisitely gifted Amanda Blake.