Do you remember the old Disney commercial where the whole family is lying awake before sunrise and one of them says, “I’m too excited to sleep!”?
Yup. Today’s that day.
Happy World Book Day! Happy Read Across America Day! And today is the kickoff for our annual month-long Celebration of Reading. We have a One School One Book celebration. The PTO purchases a copy of the book for each family and each adult at school. We reveal the title in a schoolwide assembly.
There have been clues outside the library for over a week leading up to today’s reveal party. And this year, for the first time, we held an all-day read-a-thon today before the big news. Classes invited special guest readers from our building and our community, Big Buddies and Little Buddies teamed up to read, of course readers curled up with their own books, and one brave kindergartener read to her dad’s 5th grade class all by herself.
By the time the whole school arrived in the gym, they were more than a little excited. So was I!
We sang Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss. We tallied all the minutes read in each classroom. It ranged from about 130-190. If we counted every child’s minutes in one grand total, that’s over 50,000!
The puzzle board was in place at the front of the gym. Six tiny kinders came up, each clutching a single puzzle piece. Together we fit them into the matching space (numbered to keep it moving smoothly). First graders carried their puzzle pieces with confidence, adding them to the lower edge of the frame. The sound in the room exploded as much of the author’s name came into focus. Second and third graders filled in the upper edge and the sides before fourth and fifth grade came to fill in the center of the book’s cover. 5th graders who have been reading all the Nutmeg nominees this year had been confident they knew the title before the party started. As the cover took shape, their cheers and squeals of “We knew it!” rang across the gym. The excitement floated across the grades in front of them to students who haven’t been book shopping the Nutmeg shelves, but felt, in those moments, that they too were carried away by feelings of recognition, surety, and general mania.
It felt like we were at a rock concert! I looked out at a sea of radiant faces, uplifted arms, and motion. I was overcome.
We must be doing something right if our children believe that an entire day of reading is a gift. We must be building the kind of reading community that nurtures lifelong readers if they see a school assembly, a book party, as a highlight of the winter. We must be growing wild readers if they’re exuberant that they already recognize a book that we “bless” as worth everyone’s time, joyful they found it before we did.
I hope to see those same bright eyes and rounded cheeks in the days ahead. I hope their enthusiasm carries over into the first chapters of the book. And the final chapters. I hope it bubbles through their entire reading lives.
For me, “Hope came down” yesterday.
Thank you Natalie Lloyd for a beautiful book and hopeful images I’ll carry in my heart–the ones you wrote and the ones your pages inspired.
–Pomperaug Elementary School will be reading A Snicker of Magic throughout the month of May.–