Saturday, November 12, 2016
and this is America . . .
We sat in tiny chairs at tables made for kids. In the school library, the tops of tables and the seats of chairs were closer to the floor. We paired off, a dozen adults and a dozen first and second graders. We were reading. We read to each other. The adult would say a word that the child stumbled upon. The child would repeat it. (Incidentally, this is the sort of quiet volunteering that Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland has done for many years, but that's another story. Or is it?) Some children wrote letters on erasable white boards. One could hear the mysterious sounding-outs of letters and their combinations, the gentle coaxings and coachings that shed light and pattern. Sight words, flash cards, stapled pages we called books. Voices blending. Encouragement. Ears yearning. One boy reached out to touch a man's gray hair. The child seemed baffled and amazed at the hair's texture, its novelty. Sometimes a child would navigate a whole book, maybe twice. And at other times, the adult and child would mirror each other's narration or take turns in some improvised manner. Perhaps they'd discuss the new words or the plot or the informational content. The boy remarked on the veins in the old man's hand. "My hand is a different color," the young fellow observed matter-of-factly. "Yes, I see that. Isn't it wonderful," replied the man. They turned to tackle another book, the chorus of learning filling the room.