Savoring: Read Aloud

I never realized how much wisdom can be found in children’s literature until I became an elementary school teacher.

Every year for the past ten years or so I read one of my all time favorites Charlotte’s Web out loud to my class. If you have never read this story it is about the remarkable friendship between a spider and a pig.

I love to imitate the voices of the characters as I read this beloved tale. Glancing up from time to time, I marvel at how focused the children are and I often wonder how they are visualizing the scenes and characters in their minds.  Their laughter or giggles at the antics of some of the characters are music to my ears.

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The chapter called “Last Day” always chokes me up during the scene when Charlotte dies and I always have a hard time reading those lines aloud.  The children are taken by surprise and all sit very still and look at me unsure of how to react.  Some smile sweetly, some even walk up to give me hug as I dab the swelling of tears from my eyes.  They offer words of comfort such as “It’s only a book, it really didn’t happen.” “It’s okay to feel sad.” I smile and assure them I am ok and I can see the relief on their faces.  I think it leaves a good impression though, that it is ok and yes, even teachers cry.

Throughout the story the author, E.B. White, offers many delightful and insightful quotes that speak to me now ~ I never noticed when I was a child. I have to share a few of my favorites:

“Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will.”

“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing…after all, what’s a life anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die…By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

“THE BARN was very large. It was very old. It smelled of hay and it smelled of manure. It smelled of the perspiration of tired horses and the wonderful sweet breath of patient cows. It often had a sort of peaceful smell—as though nothing bad could happen ever again in the world.”

“Most people believe almost anything they see in print.”

“The night seemed long. Wilbur’s stomach was empty and his mind was full. And when your stomach is empty and your mind is full, it’s always hard to sleep.”

As I read aloud the final lines of this wonderful story: ” She was in a class by herself.  It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.  Charlotte was both.”  I am usually fortunate enough to look up just in time to see the smiles emerge as the children break into the sweet sound of applause.  It thrills my heart when this happens and it gives me hope that they will always remember this sweet story and these most precious days of their lives.

Savoring the Simple Joys

The classroom is abuzz with activity! Laughter and smiles are plentiful this morning and the energy level is high! Today is Valentine’s Day!

They arrived with their decorated boxes and valentines. The hallways are filled with students carrying bag of cards in one hand and assorted flowers or decorative boxes in the other. The much-anticipated day has finally arrived!

Some are so creative with their Valentine boxes!

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The simple joy and thoughtful gestures of hand-made cards and boxes of candy.

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Beautiful words of love that come straight from their hearts.

From the very simple to the more thought-provoking sentiments.

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The anticipation of opening the cards is almost too much for some of them, but they show great patience as they wait for the end of the day.

Then it is time! The smiles return and the chatter starts. “Thank you _____ for the card!” and “l love this type of candy” intermingle with the sound of tearing open envelopes and the cracking of the candy wrappers.

I am so blessed to have this opportunity to savor such joyful times through the eyes of the children in my classroom!

Matthew 18:10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”