I had my whole week “planned”, as most teacher’s often do. I knew which days we were doing what activity and what book I wanted to go along with each. I had everything placed in their respective day bins and I felt overall ready for the crazy days ahead. Monday went well, Tuesday was good, Wednesday went fine… then Thursday, on the day of all days (being the big “celebration” day), I had not one, but two wrenches thrown at me. We had our usual Thursday guest reader show up, and she had brought a “special” book for a “special” day- she brought Green Eggs and Ham. Now, if you’re a teacher, you know how it feels to read such a fun book on such a fun day; well for me, Green Eggs and Ham was one of my “fun books” for such a “fun day”. I had even made green eggs and ham candies for my students. She started to read and I wanted to cry. “That was supposed to be my book” I thought. “Now I can’t have fun with it.” I had been waiting all year to do this read aloud. It’s one of my favorites. Needless to say, I was crushed. I moved on, though. “I still have ‘The Cat in the Hat'” I smiled to myself.
On Thursday’s after snack, I have a former student who is in second grade that likes to come read to us. She was a part of my first class, and I grew close to her family throughout the years, so she is a different kind of special to me. (I know, I know, I shouldn’t play favorites- but she’s not in my class anymore so it’s fine!) She came in to the room today, beaming, hiding a book behind her back. “Miss Sementelli!” she says. “Guess what book I have today?!” I made my “thinking” face. She pulled the book from behind her back.
The Cat in the Hat.
“The Cat in the Hat!” she excitedly yells. “It’s my favorite Dr. Seuss book!”
“Yay!” I say, trying my best to be as genuine as possible. I felt so sad. And not just sad, but also a little embarrassed, maybe even ashamed. I was getting upset because a student wanted to read a book that I wanted to read. Was I 5 again? Getting upset because someone else got to the pink marker before I did? I felt so awful for feeling anything but excited and happy to have a child want to read a book. I internally smacked myself in the face a few times. I could not spend a second longer being grumpy. It’s a book. It’s a read aloud. 1 read aloud.
I sat there with my students while she proudly read her favorite book. She was animated and interactive- everything I like to think I taught her, only I know she’s had 3 awesome teachers, so she’s got a little of all of us with her. I could’ve cried sitting there listening to her. This little girl, who could barely read or write when I met her and was so shy around her classmates was now reading a 20 minute long story to a group of students she doesn’t even know. And it’s because she asked to. She wants to read. Every negative feeling I had from earlier on that day was gone. Watching her, listening to her…she made me realize why I teach. Why I read the books I do and the way I do. I want to make these kids feel like they can do anything. I want to make them feel so comfortable and so confident that they can be whoever they want, whenever they want, doing whatever they want. I want them to want to read and share that love of reading with others. I want them in 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 years to come back to my classroom and ask me if they can read The Cat in the Hat because they know how fun of a book it is and how much people enjoy it. (Ok, maybe I did secretly shed a tear.)
So, thank you, Dr. Seuss. Thank you for making reading so enjoyable and fun to students and teachers- young or old, you make everyone enjoy the silliness and simplicity of life.
To my students today, my former students, and my future students: “And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed! (98 and 3/4% guaranteed) KID YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS.” ~Dr. Seuss