The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. –Dr. Seuss-
I remember Katie von Campe like it was yesterday. She was a “Mighty, Mighty Mustang” in my summer camp group. That was the year, the summer, that Harry Potter was new, popular, and a big deal. Katie was a reader. She brought her brand new Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone book to summer camp. We read!
Recently, Katie was featured in our school’s publication “Look Who’s Soaring Now!” about former students.
Katie was the featured alumna. She graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Children’s Literature, and an MFA in Writing for Children, from Simmons College.
Katie, I’m not surprised at all. I could have guessed when we read Harry Potter.
To my delight, here is what Katie said:
“I remember fondly putting on plays at GCS. We were given so much control in storytelling and creating characters, and encouraged to invent our own roles. My curiosity and imagination were nurtured. My teacher, Jennie, was such an important influence on me. She encouraged and believed in me and created this sense of creativity and exploration. We were told to see what could be possible, or to see where we could go with an idea.”
Yes, Katie. I encouraged you and believed in you. I gave you the reins.
No teacher-directed plays. Children rule. Just reading and storytelling,
and your own creativity.
You felt good. You soared.
That year Katie decided on the camp T-shirt color. Red. Since then, no child has ever picked the color. I still have my red shirt.
I went to a teacher conference at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to hear children’s author and illustrator David Wiesner speak. He is the only children’s book author to receive three Caldecott Medals. That’s like finding buried treasure, three times. The museum also gave a presentation on a literacy and language program they were doing with children and families. Low and behold, Katie was involved. Seeing her name on the screen was terrific.
The never-ending circle of life, reading life, continues.
Miles is six-years old. When he was in my class, he loved life, loved learning, loved being a clown in our circus performance, and loved chapter reading. He was glued to every book. It’s a toss-up if his favorite was Charlotte’s Web, or Little House in the Big Woods. Today he came in to his old class to read to the children. He brought his own book, but decided that he would rather read an Elephant and Piggie book. And, he did. Oh, how he beamed with confidence, the kind that comes from a foundation of books and reading.
My goodness! He flowed through the words. He used a voice. He never struggled over words. He read the story the way that Michael Phelps swims- smoothly. He even remembered to stop and show the pictures to the children.
Miles, I remember how sad you were when Charlotte the spider died.
You loved “Charlotte’s Web.” And, I remember how you laughed when the goose said everything three times.
I sent the photos to Miles’ mom. She replied, “Thank you for teaching Miles to love reading. It all began in the Aqua Room.”
The circle of reading is never ending. Today at chapter reading, Little House in The Big Woods, Laura got a doll for Christmas. She named her Charlotte. The children immediately blurted out, “Just like Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web!” They were so excited to make that connection from many, many months ago.
There have been, and will be, many children like Katie and Miles. All it takes is belief, confidence, and a good book.