Tuesday, January 15, 2013

May I read them a book?

Declan had finished his second grade math test quicker than his classmates.
His teacher suggested he spend a little time with the Big Cats, while his classmates finished up the test.

This is one of the silver linings of a preschool embedded within an elementary school, having older students come and visit us.

We were just getting ready for Storytime.
He asked if he could read the preschoolers a book,
"I could read this one," he said,
finding one of our recent favorites, Jeremy Draws a Monster (by Peter McCarty).

I was delighted with his offer. I knew it would be wonderful for the children to have an older student read to them. "Oh, the children love that book!  Yes, that would be great! You read to them first, and then we'll follow you with our special book of the day."

He sat down in the reading chair and all the children quickly arranged themselves at his feet.
He began to read, holding the book to face the children and reading the words upside down.

He was, truly, a teacher.

I was amazed at how transfixed the children were by his reading.  There were none of the usual side conversations; instead, all eyes on Declan.

The children were fabulous listeners.  As this familiar story continued, one preschooler couldn't contain himself any longer and blurted out "He's going to make the monster go away!" and, the floodgates opened and everyone started sharing at once, wanting to tell Declan what they remembered from this favorite tale.

Declan stopped reading.  He stared at the preschoolers.  Then, he slowly, without a word, closed the book, with his fingers stuck inside as a placeholder.

This caught me so off guard - this perfect imitation of a teacher.  I had to turn my head, to hide my smile and stifle my laughter at this delight.

Yes, he was, truly, a teacher.

"He closed the book!" one preschooler said, in alarm.
"Stop talking!" another exclaimed.
"Read more! There's more!" one couldn't resist.
Declan stared back, saying nothing.
The children went quiet.

Assured that they were listening, he opened the book and proceeded to finish the tale.

Oh, how I struggled not to guffaw!

Later, he came up to me and said, "Ms. Ingram, let me share a technique I learned in my class - when Ms. Coleman thinks we are talking too much, she closes the book until we are quiet.  Did you see how it worked with these kids, too?"

I nodded and smiled (once more, resisting the urge to laugh aloud with sheer delight),
"That is a very good technique. Thank you for sharing it with me. It is very hard to read aloud when others are talking, isn't it?

Thank you for reading to the children, today. You, Declan, are truly a teacher. "


  1. What a special young man - a true teacher in his own right. I can remember my daughter when she was 6 and I found her reading to a group of younger children. That was when I knew she would be a teacher. Thanks for sharing.

  2. What wonderful confidence this young man shows. You did a great deal to foster this budding young leader. And, I love the partnership between classes!

  3. Oh my gosh! This is too funny! Declan perfectly understands how teachers are supposed to work! And the way you wrote this, I can just see him sitting there with his finger stuck in the book, waiting! Hilarious!

  4. Our buddy program at school is just great. I love that at your school, kids can feel comfortable visiting in your classroom. It's a wonderful story; I hope you'll be able to share with his parents sometime. What a special young man.

  5. What a fun story! And a special treat to have this guest teacher share his insights with you. I could see him with his finger in the book . . . waiting for the students to be ready to listen.

  6. This is brilliant, thank you for this today! What a gift he was and I am with you on the self control it must have taken to stifle you gufaw. That was a beautiful story and I could see each moment.

  7. I am grinning too. Watch out teachers - you are about to be replaced!

  8. What a glorious story. I felt like I was there. I can just picture you stifling your laughter. It reminds me how we are being watched very carefully by our students...every moment counts, no matter how ordinary.