My sojourn as the “Book Lady”
May 25, 2011
For the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of being known as the “Book Lady” to a kindergarten class at Caldwell Elementary School. It’s a title I’ve come to adore while volunteering for Book’em, a Nashville nonprofit literacy program. Book’em is dedicated to empowering children by fostering a love of books and reading.
If the students in Ms. Juanita Wynn’s class are any indication, Book’em is an enormous success. Many of the children in the class had nothing at home to read before Book’em presented them with books. I could tell that each book selection was important to the children: They would hover and look and agonize, then swoop in and grab their choice and bring it over for me to see. They would flash big smiles at me and then dart back to their desks to turn pages. It was just precious. Dinosaurs and puppy dog books, growing seeds and butterfly books, scary, silly, serious books … we read them all. And they took each one home, so proud.
Once I asked Ms. Wynn if there was anything she needed for the class. In a small voice, she mentioned how much she would like to have some journal pages for the kids to write their own stories and draw about their lives. I promised I would try to get some more paper for her. After designing a bright cover and making it print-ready, I contacted Rob Kohls at Dynamark Printing and asked if there was any way his company could print some journals for the kids for the last part of the year. Within days, he delivered 17 shiny, coil-bound journals, which were presented to the class at no cost. What a kind and thoughtful gift!
Last week, I asked Rob to join me as I made my last visit to the class for the year. We were entertained for over half an hour as each of the children stood and read a favorite story that they had written in their journals. Then they thanked Rob and Dynamark with thunderous shouts and applause. It was quite a day. Ms. Wynn proudly told us that all of the children had taken their end-of-year tests and that each one had been selected to move on to the first grade. All the books, all the reading, the writing and the teaching must have done its job. Ms. Wynn worked so hard and prepared them so well.
I just love being a little part of that success. It’s hard to imagine children not having the thrill of reading in their lives. Thanks to Book’em, they always will.