By Jennifer Bonnette Funk
What might seem like a small act of kindness at first can turn out to have a big and positive impact on someone’s world.
Each week on my day off, I read aloud as part of Read Aloud West Virginia. I read to three classrooms at West Preston School. The other day, I was reading a story to one of the classes rather excitedly with silly voices, as I often do, and one of the students handed me a note. She was so proud to give me the letter and was smiling so brightly.
In the note, she wrote, “Dear Mrs. Funk, you are the best reader and the best voice maker. There are no other persons like you. You are the best of the best.” The note included a hand drawn picture of me reading a book to the class.
It was so unexpected and overwhelmingly sweet. I was so moved by her act of kindness, I wrote her a letter back. In the letter, I said that she had made my day much brighter when I read her wonderful letter. Then, I said that getting to read to her and the other students brings me joy and is the highlight of my week.
I brought the letter the next time I read to the class. I gave it to her before I started reading and I explained to the class that if any of them would like to write me a letter, too, I would be happy to write them back.
Then, something magical happened. They all took out paper and pencils and started quickly writing me letters. As they finished their letters, one by one they proudly presented them to me.
And, here is what some of them wrote to me:
“I love your personality and how you read books that I have never heard of. Thank you for reading.”
“I hope you always keep reading to us.”
“Thank you for reading books and being very nice and so cool and just COOL.”
“I like when you read to me.”
“You are the best reader, and if you ever get sick I hope you feel better.”
“The two things are I love Thursdays mostly when you come her and make my days sunny.”
“I like it when you come in please come in all year long. You are like another teacher to me and you are awesome. Always remember you are always awesome.”
“You make me happy.”
Then, one of the students presented me with a book she had written. It was titled “Who is my favorite reader?”
I asked her if she would like to read it since every author should get to read their own story out loud. She was so excited. She read the story with such excitement and pride. The other students thought it was so cool she was reading to them, too. In the story, she said that her favorite reader had blue eyes, blond hair, is pretty, reads with the best voices and that her name is Mrs. Funk.
We all clapped for her and I even shed some tears. What a wonderful sight to see one of the students having the courage to get up in front of all the other students filled me with such pride.
It is such a blessing and a gift for a teacher to open up their classroom to volunteers for Read Aloud.
What a wonderful gift too these young children gave to me with their kind words of gratitude. And, it all started with one small act of kindness that multiplied into an entire classroom of students being thoughtful and generous.
With actions we are shaping and growing the world we want to live in for the better.
Please consider volunteering for Read Aloud at your local school or for an organization where you can mentor and reach the next generation. In doing so, they might just surprise you and inspire you, too.
Jennifer Bonnette Funk is a Read Aloud West Virginia volunteer at West Preston School in Arthurdale, Preston County.