What I Learned Reading at Horton’s Kids
Reposted from LinkedIn — Apr 2, 2016
I recently read my new children’s book, Lady Lucy’s Quest, to a group of girls at Horton’s Kids. I think the kids truly enjoyed the story and its message: you can follow your dreams and succeed, especially when you use creative, innovative problem solving strategies. They read the story with me; we paused to talk about the illustrations and some of the harder words like “incredulous.” We talked about the three tests of Knighthood and distinguished among endurance, strength and courage. They shared, they laughed. We had our own Quest — searching for blue flight feathers I had hidden that doubled as bookmarks. And, those who found more than one feather offered to share their extra feathers with their fellow readers.
Here is what I did not anticipate and what I learned. The students’ questions went to the core of the story — its deep innards. They wanted to know why Lady Lucy’s family (and the larger community) were not supportive of her efforts to succeeed. They asked about how one can show courage and whether it can be expressed in acts only or can words be courageous. Then, although the book had been proofread a thousand times, no one had noticed that one reference to Lucy’s name that did not appear in its special script font — designed to enable all children to say “Lucy” when her name appeared because the font was different. Yes, children read word by word but this was more than that: they identified with the script version of Lucy’s name — her specialness — and so the absence of the script was noticeable to them.
Here’s the point: when reading to kids, it is about more than the actual words on the page that matter. True, that is one definition of the word “reading.” And, within this definition, reading is “receptive” — meaning it’s about learning from the words. https://www.englishclub.com/reading/what.htm.
But, I think reading, and the Horton’s Kids brought this point home loudly and clearly, is about more than the story itself. It is proactive, not just receptive. Reading can generate an army of questions and thoughts and observations. It is about engaging and exploring. This correlates to a secondary meaning of “reading.” http://www.dictionary.com/browse/reading. Reading is an understanding and an expression of one’s interpretation as in “my reading of the situation…” In other words, reading can mean probing deeply.
The Horton’s Kids read, and we had a reading in every sense of that word. A worthy lesson for me. Now, when I say I am reading Lady Lucy’s Quest with kids, the word “reading” will have a broader, deeper and more personal meaning.