In participation of this past Read In Week, one of our assignments in our Services for Children and Young Adults class was to select one or more picture books and read them aloud to an audience of children. No sweat, right? Sure, if you’re good with kids. However, if you happen to be an individual who has had virtually no experience with children and, if we’re being perfectly honest, has harboured a little closeted fear of these tiny humanoids, it’s kind of intimidating. (I can’t explain it. I like children in theory, but face-to-face it’s always been very awkward. I think I try too hard, and they can smell my desperation like a dog smells fear, which leads to long uncomfortable silences and skeptical stares. Yeah, that’s right, I feel judged in the presence of a five-year-old.)
My irrational and somewhat pathetic insecurities aside, I was assigned a kindergarten class of ten children and I chose to read Wiener Wolf by Jeff Crosby, and Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers (which are two wonderful picture books that you really should flip through if you’re a picture book connoisseur of any kind — and if you’re not then pffft, WTF is wrong with you? Picture books are freaking awesome.) When I walked into the classroom and sat down in that little plastic chair, surrounded by the tiny humans with their cold, critical stares and skepticism written all over their round, still-pudgy faces, I briefly considered faking a spontaneous bout of stomach flu and heading for the hills.
But I didn’t. The kids sat there. I read my books.
Lesson learned? Five-year-olds are ridiculously easy to please and not nearly as scary as I originally thought. They are at times actually kind of hilarious.
They particularly enjoyed Wiener Wolf because they got to pretend to be wolves, and nothing re-engages a dozen fidgeting miniature-sized humans than being allowed to all howl at the top of their lungs like banshees. They were great, and by the time I was half way through my first book I forgot why I had been nervous in the first place.
Ooh, and as a delightful thank-you gift, they gave me jam. :D
Highlight of the day (other than jam):
*Child frantically puts up hand in the middle of my reading of Wiener Wolf*
Me: Yes, you have a question?
Child: I have a dog!
Me: Really? Is it a wiener dog too?
Child: … *Long thoughtful pause* …
Child: I like spaghetti.
Me: …? That’s great, sweetie.