If you hadn’t noticed, there is a special day on the calendar set aside to celebrate a myriad of things and events. As a matter of fact, today, April 2, is International Children’s Book Day. It encourages reading, and promotes the love of books for children. The best way to develop our young children into intelligent human beings is by teaching them to read. Instilling a love of reading promotes a lifetime of learning and enjoyment.
Many libraries celebrate today with story telling hours and other events for young children. You can celebrate today by giving a new book to each of your kids. If they are too young to read, spend time reading stories to them. It’s a great and memorable bonding time for you and the child.
When I was in elementary school, Elson Eclectic Readers were the books introduced in first- through sixth-grades. My former classmates will recall the adventures of Spot the Dog, and Dick and Jane. The books themselves dealt with a number of different subjects including: Poetry, history, geography, etiquette and patriotism. Each succeeding book in the series introduced students to increasingly complex genres and better writers, resulting in better reading skills and comprehension as well as a growing appreciation for good writing.
As a teacher, I was involved in an experimental reading program which I enjoyed immensely. There was no syllabus for the program. I had to write the curriculum myself, which included a great deal of reading and acting out the many stories which we read. My eighth-graders were natural-born actors and actresses. They loved making plays out of the stories they read in class.
They particularly loved acting out The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. The novel tells the story of 12-year-old tomboy Frankie Addams, who feels disconnected from the world; in her words, an “unjoined person.” Frankie’s mother died when she was born, and her father is a distant, uncomprehending figure. Her closest companions are the family’s African American maid, Berenice Sadie Brown, and her 6-year-old cousin, John Henry West. She has no friends in her small southern town and dreams of going away with her brother and his bride-to-be on their honeymoon. The Member of the Wedding is told from the point of view of Frankie, who is a troubled adolescent. My students identified with the character, because of her age and similar experiences, such as being left out of the “popular” group.
It is gratifying to me that many of those former students became lifelong readers and zealous theatre patrons. Years ago, Mrs. L.C. Henderson introduced me to drama and for that I have always been grateful to her. It is my fondest wish that every child, at some point in their early education, has a teacher devoted to reading and dramatic literature.