Seventeen faces lit up and a low buzz began when I entered Classroom A at Fairfax Head Start Center. My mission was to read to the children. It’s Dr. Seuss week. Taking part in this event was something I’d wanted to do, but it never seemed to fit into my schedule. The children sat in a small space at the front of the room, where teacher, Miss Maggie, was finishing a lesson. Seventeen musial voices greeted me in unison, “Good morning, Miss Annis.” They had me right then.
The day before, I immersed myself in the charming, narrow picture books at our main library. It was hard to choose from the crammed-full shelves that lined the walls, wound around corners, and filled in the nooks. So, I went to a favorite from when my own children were young, Ezra Jack Keats’s Whistle for Willie, and also decided on an Elmer the Patchwork Elephant book called Elmer and Butterfly by David McKee.
The third book I read, Herbert the Snail by Cheryl Brown, came from one of those free-standing Little Libraries on our neighborhood walk route.
Before lining up in pairs to go to the decorated reading area outside, the children donned their red-and-white-striped Dr. Seuss hats. The hats, freeform replicas with strips of construction paper and a headband that displayed their names, made everyone look like miniature Seusses.
They gathered on the colorful round tarp and sat at my feet, their hats bobbing until they focused on me when I was ready to start. And, with a minimum of fidgeting, this little group of three-and-four-year-olds sat quietly, answered my questions, and asked their own pertinent questions.
Reading in appropriate voices, with the book facing out to display the pictures, I felt the familiar thrill of introducing new experiences, thoughts and vocabulary. I felt the warmth of all these sunny faces looking up at me. The children’s reactions, smiles, hugs, and sweet good-byes filled my heart.
As I drove away, I remembered how the adults we come in contact with every day were once like these little ones -- inquisitive, helpful, caring, displaying good behavior. That means it’s in their nature. It reminds me that good qualities reside in each of us. While that’s evident in many folks, we may have to search in others. But if we take time to look for the good, we’ll find it.
~ xoA ~