Students huddle around hanging on every page as I read them the story of two children sharing their bounty of mangos.
The colorful drawings demanded attention even from the older students as I read “Too Many Mangos: A Story About Sharing” to numerous classes at West Sedona School on Dr. Seuss’ birthday Friday, March 2.
Verde Valley schools invited community members to read to students in celebration of Read Across America.
We shared with the children how reading is involved in our jobs and read a book of our choice.
At my job, I told the children, all I do is read all day.
I read reporters’ stories.
I read community briefs and letters to editor.
I read other news sources.
I read my own work over and over looking for typos and mistakes.
If you don’t like to read, journalism isn’t for you, I told them.
Then, I asked them where they read.
The majority of the time, students named the obvious first — at the library, school, in bed at night — before they realized they read much more often than they thought.
They read when they go to the store, out to eat, play games, surf the Internet and look at a map.
They realized reading is what they do all day too.
Taking the advice of a 6-year-old named Isaac, I read “Too Many Mangos,” even to older students. For the seventh- and eight-graders, however, I read “The Math Curse” to test their and my arithmetic skills. Both books were a hit.
I worried about reading aloud to sixth-graders, seventh-graders and eighth-graders. I thought, “Kids that age don’t want a boring adult to read them a book.”
However, to my surprise, they were an easier crowd than the kindergartners.
I also told the students to be a good writer, they must first be a good reader. Even the best writers must read to improve their craft. Reading teaches us style, usage and storytelling skills.
When I finished my presentation, students in one class wanted to read their writing to me. They shared with pride epilogues they wrote for books they read.
To see children excited about reading and writing shows me our educators are doing something right.
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