Another Saturday, another couple of Christmas parties. Actually, I only worked one of them - "worked" being a silly word for the pleasantries of sharing a book or a carol in the afternoon sun - and forced my colleague to race off to read Night Before Christmas to the several hundred kids at the other one.
We did our colouring - reading - crafting corner thing again for a crowd of 40 - 50 kids and their parents. Two volunteers tended the crafting table, another the colouring table, and I gladly curled up in the reading corner. We had a passel of Christmas books of greater and lesser quality (as well as one or two board books, like Miss Mary Mack, that were just too popular to not take). The clear favourites were How The Grinch Stole Christmas (the real one) and Disney's Christmas Sing Along.
Kids wandered in and out of the corner. The most I ever had reading around me was eight, but I was never alone. At one point, a little girl came and sat down, picked up a Franklin Christmas story, and gamely said, "Let's see if I can sound this one out." Fearing that she couldn't - I remembered her from the summer - I encouraged her to read me Tale of the Christmas Mouse. She did, twice, and we moved on to other things.
And here's what stuck with me; this: in the middle of a Christmas party with cookies and colouring, stickers and markers and friends, she chose to take time to practice her reading.
Kids like to read, I swear they do. Kids like to read, and they like to work hard at reading more and reading better. Kids like to read.
If they don't, where they don't, it's because some adult has worked very, very hard to achieve that end.