Who is watching you?

By Melody Simpson

I am being watched. More significantly, somebody is listening to me. It has been going on for some time, and occurring on a fairly regular basis. At first I didn’t pay too much attention to it, but as time went on, it became more and more apparent. Someone is … observing me. What should I do?  Call the media? Complain to my representatives? Sue the NSA? Fortunately, based on some compelling guidance and advice, I know exactly what to do.

I signed up to become a volunteer reader for another year.

Anyone who regularly reads to an elementary school classroom knows exactly what I’m talking about: children leaning forward, lips parted, mimicking the actions of the characters as I describe them, joining in loudly and joyfully when phrases are repeated. Reminding everyone where we left off last week. Guessing what will happen next. Laughing, gasping, and (for the class I read to last year, who liked all things scary), shivering ….

This is one of the true joys of reading aloud to children, and why I have done this for about 18 years. This, and the chorus of greetings I get when I show up, the hugs that I’m offered. Heck, it’s just plain fun! But when I stop to think about what is happening each week, I realize that it is also serious stuff.

We are modeling the joys of reading. We are sharing, not only great stories, but the fact that we love great stories, and love to read great stories. And this modeling doesn’t just happen in classrooms.

Do you have children, or grandchildren? Do they know that you love to read? Do they see you reading? Do you still read aloud to them? I bet if you tried, you could even read aloud a favorite childhood book to your adolescent or teenage child – or try an audiobook in the car while traveling. I have read aloud to seventh graders, and while they don’t give you the hugs that elementary school kids give, and usually appear bored, they are listening – trust me, I know, because they have told me.

This is the magic, the simplicity, of Read Aloud. All it takes is good stories, and someone who loves to read being willing to share that love with others. The results are remarkable, and the benefits flow both ways. So … who is watching you?