I visited a local preschool this week to share some books during their reading time. We offer visits to pretty much anyone who asks, from schools to nursing homes to service organizations, sometimes bringing a guest reader (police and firefighters are especially popular) or a book rack and a few dozen titles for a mini book fair, or to present state reading award nominees (can I “booktalk 14 titles in 30 minutes, to 8 middle school classes in a row?”… yes, yes I can)  and sometimes just to share new releases that we’re excited about.

Regular visits outside the store are not only nice breaks in the retail schedule, but they keep relationships with local organizations active and offer the opportunity to meet additional school staff and administrators. While this particular preschool is one that I have visited many times before, the invitation for this week was from a new teacher, and as the school has grown by one class per age level, this was also a new group of kids to meet. Packing my tote with 4 picture books, a puppet or two, and a bottle of water, I confidently set out to greet my new friends, and reminded the store staff that I’d be back in about an hour.

“Good morning! Thank you for inviting me to your class. What a nice room — I like all the pictures I see on the walls! How are you today?”

……..Are you the story lady?  We have a hamster. It’s called Hammy. Don’t tap on his glass. He eats hamster food, and cheetos. Do you want to see him? He’s asleep in the house part. He isn’t dead. He isn’t. My dog is deaded, though. My uncle is deaded, too.”

“I’m so very sorry. It’s hard to lose someone you love, isn’t it? Girls and boys, please come sit on the rug with me. Let’s all pick out a colored square to sit on, and we’ll shake our hands out… shake, shake, shake, and then let them rest on our knees.  We’re going to read some books together today, and I need your help to read them. Let’s all sit on our pockets. All the way on our pockets – that’s great. It’s a bright and shiny day outside, so let’s start with a song. Do you know “Mr. Sun?”

“…. Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun… I need to go to the bathroom.”

“… you may go. Carefully step over your friends…that’s right, this way… OK, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me.”

… I need to go too.”

“…as soon as she comes out, OK? You may stand right by the bathroom door to wait. OK, let’s keep going…. Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, hiding behind the tree…”

“…can you make him stop? He’s sitting on me.”

“Let’s all sit on our own squares. All the way on our pockets. That’s great. ….Last part of the song: These little children are asking you, please come out so we can play with you…”

The sun had a list.”

“A list? Could you say that again, please?”

“A list, and we couldn’t look at it or it burnt us and we would be blind. That means can’t see. But then it was cloudy, and I couldn’t see the list, and but you still couldn’t look but we got to go outside. Can we go outside and see if the sun is a list?”

“Ohhhhhh.  Yes, the sun had an ECLIPSE, where it was hidden for a little while. That’s right. And it was cloudy that day, which made it hard to see here in Indiana. I’m glad you didn’t look right at it, though. Let’s look at the first book I brought today, instead.”

“It was flood storming too. On TV. And there was clouds and the rain made everything drownt and the houses floated and there was a COW.” 

“Yes, there were storms this week in Texas and Florida. And lots of people had to stay inside or even leave in their cars because of the rain and the wind. We hope they are OK. If you want to, when we are done with the stories, we can send a big hello on my phone to a class in Texas. Would you like to do that?”

“Let’s send them some snacks. And some Legos. They will need a bucket, too, to scoop the water. I have a bucket, with Paw Patrol on it.”

“That’s very thoughtful, and I like Paw Patrol, too. This first book is about animals, too. Can you tell me what this animal is on the cover?”

“I have a dog! …So do I! His name is Bart. …I have a cat, and she is SOOO FAT. …We don’t have any dog because my sister is a baby…. My dog is deaded. And he’s not alive….   My uncle is deaded, too.”

“I’m very sorry about your dog, and your uncle.”

“MY GRANDMA IS DEAD!… My other cat is died, too. Not the cat that is fat. The white one. It’s in a box. It was old. It is a cat, not my grandma. It was raining and raining and the tree blew over and the house got holed from the tree and then THERE WAS AN AIRPLANE THAT LANDED IN THE TREE and the people were hurt but they weren’t dead.”

“Wow. Yes, sometimes pets get old, and then they die, and we’re sad. And I’m sorry about your Grandma. And the airplane was on TV? I think I might have seen that on the news, too. There are lots of things happening in the storm. I am glad we have firefighters and police to help people. Shall we read together, now? Here’s the animal on the cover…. it’s an elephant, isn’t it? What’s different about this elephant?”

“I SAW THE ELEPHANTS AT THE ZOO! They were in the water! They weren’t scared, though. They were shooting water on their backs. But in the storming there was water IN THE HOUSES and the people were on the tops of them. And there were boats on the water part. And there was a dog in the boat!”

“Yes, during the storm the water got into buildings, and some people left in their cars, and some people left in boats with their pets. Wasn’t that brave? We can keep all of those brave people in our thoughts, and wish for them to be safe. I am glad that you are all thinking about them, and wanting them to be OK.”

“If I was at the storm, I would take my boat and put all the people and the dogs and the cats in it and take it away from those broken houses. And then I’d give them snacks. And we would get an airplane and go away.”

“You are very kind and brave. And I think that all those people in the storm would be grateful for your help. And since our time for reading today is done, let’s sing one more song about water. Let’s sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and think about the sun coming out. Let’s think about the sun coming out, and drying up all the rain, and all the people in the storm climbing up and being safe again.”

 

 

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