Friday, May 2, 2008

Rolling Readers

Whoever devised free association as a writing method must have been a parent. My first Rolling Readers story session was this morning. It’s a pretty casual thing; I read stories to a second grade class in Mira Mesa and we occasionally stop and talk about the stories (today: Say Cheese! (an "Arthur" book) and Falling Up). It’s a wonderful group of kids who couldn’t wait to raise a hand and tell me something, whether it applied to the story or not. In asking the kids if they wore bicycle helmets, I got accounts gnarly skateboard crashes, of a bike being pushed into a lake by a parent with an SUV and questionable driving skills, of a loose bike seat. It was all wonderful stuff.

Going into the story session, I was nervous. What if the kids didn’t like me, or my books, or the voices I used for each character? I’d planned on bringing several books that the kids could choose from, and Bryan suggested I add Owen Meany to the mix. Because I apparently have an above-average Owen Meany voice (you know, the boy with the “wrecked voice”), and who doesn’t love John Irving? (Full disclaimer: at a recent baby shower, we brought Crime and Punishment for the tyke, when everyone else had picture books.)

To stave off fear, I considered picturing the kids in their underwear. But I realized I could get arrested for something like that. It turns out my fear was unwarranted. The kids all remembered me from our initial meeting. They were having a snack when I arrived, and showed me their green Vietnamese Jell-o, and confessed they sucked the coating off their white cheddar goldfish and then discarded them. We were fast friends. Then I began lobbing stories their way, which they returned with random stories of their own. I left the session with requests for several other books, and have two weeks to fill them.

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