Thursday, December 03, 2009

How Are You Feeling?


 
Last night I got to meet the mothers of my shelter reading kids.  Once again it was obvious that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  The one thing we all had in common was that we were moms and that gave us a lot to talk about.

My goal was to get them excited about reading to their kids.  I was pleased to hear that 4 out of the 7 already were reading on a regular basis.  One claimed to have started the day her 3-year-old daughter was born (in the hospital).

After a round of introductions, which allowed me to connect them to their kids, we started with a book I read to them.  The theme for our session was “feelings.”  I chose “Yesterday I Had the Blues,” a beautifully written story of an African American boy who talks about the moods of all his family members.  I had them hooked from the first line (the title of the book), as they all said, “Do I ever know what that feels like?!”

We talked about how having fun with books and being read aloud to are such important factors in children becoming good readers.  We talked about the value of children sitting down with an adult to read, including the chance to unload whatever happened in their day that might be triggered by something in the book.

Then I handed out a copy of “How Are You Peeling?” to each mom and we took turns reading.  It’s a very unique book that uses fruits and vegetables with faces to portray the gamut of emotions.  One mom commented how they experience many of those emotions with each other at the shelter.  They have learned a lot about group living.

I was delighted to find that all the mothers could read, some better than others, but all quite well enough to read children’s books.  I was happy to hear one mom mention that she and her son enjoy role playing.  Another said her daughter liked it when she made funny sounds.  But one mom, who looked to be about 23 and had 3 children, was obviously struggling just to stay on top of life at all.  I somehow couldn’t imagine her reading bedtime stories.  Her children are the quiet ones when we read to them.

I then passed around a big bag of books so that each mom could take home 3 books along with the “How Are You Peeling?” book.  While they were choosing their books, some commented about books they remembered from their childhood. 

I placed an order on Amazon today for “Freckle Juice,” one of those books mentioned.  Hopefully this mom can enjoy it with her 6-year-old daughter, who delights in playing school with her shelter companions and challenges all of them to read as well as she does.

It was a rewarding evening for me, as I added new understanding to the personalities and behavior of the children I see on a regular basis when I go to read to them.  I feel I know them just a little bit better because I now know their moms.

7 Comments:

Anonymous lr said...

Barbara, you are doing such an amazing job with these children. You're a well known asset to the shelter community, so you chose an excellent time to offer a workshop to the mothers. Clearly your supportive presentation boosted their confidence, provided them some new insights, and gave them a time to have fun with each other, reading, and you. What a gift for all of you to share an opportunity to delight and ignite the reading of the children about whom all of you care deeply. AGAIN bravo, Barbara!

7:01 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

That must be so fulfulling to help these mothers in such an important way. When I used to teach, I encouraged the parents to come to the lessons whenever they could for the first few years. It is extremely interesting to observe all of the different ways that parental influence can manifest itself in children.

10:45 PM  
Blogger karen said...

Hi Barbara, what a wonderful post - I was looking forward to hear how the reading encouragement session went with the moms! You are doing such a great job x

12:19 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I love these little glimpses into your shelter work - it shows the sort of person you are, too - generous, and kind and willing to give. Kudos!

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's inspiring to read of you putting your good intentions and energy to such positive use in the world. So many of us think about it but don't act. Thanks for "passing it on!" Also, it occurred to me that I know a few adults who have difficulty identifying their feelings who could benefit from having that book!

XO,

F.

10:31 AM  
Blogger lacochran said...

You are changing the world one person at a time! Thanks for caring enough to do this.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

The big hurdle with parents reading to their children is that they feel there is a 'right' way to do it. Some of the parents of my students are illiterate and fear they will mess their child up somehow. We stress that the 'reading' is not what is important. It is the time and intention that goes with it. Spending a moment together and 'reading' the pictures if also powerful. It also teaches young children how to handle books (front and back, left to right, etc).

The notion of having fun with books is fantastic.

Freckle Juice is a fun book but I must say that the ending is a let down.

5:10 PM  

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