Third week into the Reading Ambassador volunteering and I thought I would join the 60 Year 1 (ages 5 and 6) from Woodingdean on their weekly visit yesterday to see how it was going and chat to some of the children and volunteers.
There seemed an infinite number of children clutching their books leaving the school, yet despite the hoards, you really could have heard a pin drop. Almost without exception, all were deeply buried in their book or sharing favourite bits to their neighbours in the queue. They weren’t eating them, hitting each other with them or chucking them! This looked very promising. ‘My book is about dinosaurs. That’s a Tinysaurus Rex on the front,’ Brandon volunteered. ‘Not so Tiny,’ I pointed out. That opened the flood gates and then they all wanted to tell me about their book!
‘Look where you’re going!’ a teacher helpfully suggested. Oh dear, a potential Health and Safety disaster! I was amazed, however, at how they had all seemed to master the skill of walking and reading. Brilliant start!
We arrived at the library and let ourselves in. The volunteers were already waiting and the children that they had been working with on previous weeks made a bee-line for them. A happy reunion. Great! The rest of the 60 quickly gravitated towards the children’s section of the library and quietly and sensibly began their selection. Again, I was really pleasantly surprised at how quietly focussed they all seemed. They quickly settled into one of the many comfy chairs or tucked themselves into a quiet corner, either alone or in a small group and began reading. No riots, arguments or general mucking about? Impressive! The sun was streaming into the room and I genuinely felt a wave of peaceful well-being. This was clearly a special moment in the week for these children and I marvelled at the sea of smiley faces deeply engrossed in their books.
A couple of the volunteer had already grabbed a handful of books that they already knew would hold the attention and interest of their child. One of the children had been talking about their love of spiders and there were a few non-fiction spider books alongside a copy of The Very Busy Spider on the table.
I left the volunteers to it and spent a really lovely half an hour sharing a book about Potties with Ronnie and learning about Tuataras with Vishikh.
After the children had left to go back to school I took a minute to check in with the volunteers to see how it was going. They were all very positive about the sessions. The children were loving have stories read to them about things they were interested in and were becoming more relaxed and confident to have a go and read to the volunteers. Lesley said “I’m not sure this is really relevant but Jake asked me today ‘how old actually are you?’ and when I replied that I was 72 his response was ‘how are you even alive?!!’ We had a good giggle about that but I thought afterwards how great it is that the generations were coming together in the community under the banner of reading in the safety of the local library. More to follow.