The Greatest Question

“Jennie, tell me all the chapter books.”

That was Jackson’s request, profound and unexpected.  This is his whole wide world of reading aloud.  And, this is the greatest question.

Jackson and I were on the playground this morning.  He was hot from swinging and joined me in the shade, along with other children.  I was telling children about trees and clouds; at least I think so.  Given what happened, my recall of events beforehand is blurred. Whenever Jackson joins me, he always has something to say about a book.  He wants to tell me ‘what happened’.  He needs to tell me.  I was the teacher who opened the world of books to him, and just my presence triggers all the passion and excitement that he feels when being read-aloud to.

Earlier this summer I loaned Jackson my worn-and-torn copy of “Little House on the Prairie”.  Borrowing your teacher’s book vs checking it out at the library?  That’s a no-brainier.  As the summer has progressed, Jackson has wanted to tell me things that have happened in the book; important things to him.  Yet, when he needs to tell me, it is often at a terrible time.  We’re not in the same group at Summer Camp, so we see each other on the fly.

When we were getting ready for Big Pool Swim with only minutes to spare before the van arrived, Jackson had to tell me about “the boards that went across the water”.  He was using hand gestures because he was excited, compelled to tell me about this.  I knew what he meant; Pa had built the cover for the well.

Children had to be ready to get onto the van, and I was responsible.  I knelt down to listen to Jackson, because when an adult (especially a teacher) listens to a child, it is ‘fairy dust’. Oh, what a gift.  Other teachers helped out, therefore those few important minutes of conversation were not lost or swept away.

Today was just as unexpected and far more important.  When we were in the shade, Jackson asked a question that is the Holy Grail for a child who had fallen in love with reading aloud:

“Jennie, tell me all the chapter books.”

I told him about many chapter books, including “The Wild Robot” by Peter Brown.  Jackson wanted to know more about the “Little House” series, and we talked about those books.  I asked if he wanted to borrow mine… need I say more?

Many children are incredibly smart and intuitive.  It all begins with reading aloud.  Growing a reader means growing a child who is accomplished in math, science, art, music… everything.  Yes, reading is the foundation for learning and education.

I hope another child asks me to tell them ‘all the chapter books’.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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35 Responses to The Greatest Question

  1. Norah says:

    Jennie, I very much enjoyed reading this post. I could hear the excitement in your words, and your passion for teaching. How fortunate it is for Jackson, and others, to have a teacher who is able to inspire in them a love of reading, and to show them their importance in the world by sharing “fairy dust”. When reading happens, magic happens. It unleashes the power of the individual and improves the benefit of our society.

  2. M. L. Kappa says:

    Lovely post! It is fantastic when you see a child get lost in the world of books, despite the addictive pull of the iPad!

  3. Grandtrines says:

    Reblogged this on Still Another Writer's Blog.

  4. Sue Vincent says:

    That must have been a wonderful moment 🙂

  5. What a great question AND answer! Reading opens so many doors.

  6. reocochran says:

    This really is a bright student and I remember how you and he cried about the dog who may have been lost in the overflowing river, but wasn’t. Jackson hopefully will show this enthusiasm in his parents’ presence so he will have future “book advocates” as he moves forward and you inspire other readers, Jennie. 🙂

    • jlfatgcs says:

      Thank you, Robin. Yes, he is bright. His parents told me they had to check out the entire house for mosquitoes after reading the chapter on Fever and Ague. So, I think he shows them the same enthusiasm. Yet, there will always be that teacher/child bond with us. Now, that’s a blog post!

  7. swamiyesudas says:

    Congratulations and Blessings, my Dear Annie! In this day and age when people seem to be losing the very ability to Read, glad and thankful that You are imbibing this virtue in the children.

    And not only in ‘reading,’ but also in ‘math, science, art, music… everything!’

    Above all, Bless You for MAKING time for a Child to hear him out.

    Love and Regards. 🙂

  8. “… when an adult (especially a teacher) listens to a child, it is ‘fairy dust’” I love this quote so much.

  9. A Kinder Way says:

    I love when a child loves books. Makes my heart smile. 🙂

  10. Sparking interest at that age can set the tone for life. Great!

  11. Pingback: Posts of Note (Week 17) – A Kinder Way

  12. This story took my breath away. Keep sprinkling fairy dust. Thanks for finding me again. Now I’ve found you again.

  13. This is magnificent, Jennie. You are quite a writer – I love your style.
    Someone grew me as a reader, and I am so grateful. Good for you what you are doing with that child. ❤ Many blessings.

  14. Wow….I could use you in my bookstore….That question always leaves me feeling overwhelmed when I hear it….SO, SO MUCH to choose from…….

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