February 22, 2019
It was back to school this morning for Life in the Neck and myself. Thank goodness there was no new snow to contend with here in Minnesota.
Friendly Hills Middle School in Mendota Heights hosted a community read during homeroom. What is a community read? People from the surrounding community, doctors, lawyers, football players and other sports enthusiasts, authors, police officers, dental assistants, construction workers, grocery store owners, you name it are invited in to read a book to a classroom. One room had the teacher’s fiancé as their guest reader. One community reader for each classroom. And each guest gets too choose what book they will read. Now keep in mind that homeroom is about twenty minutes so no reading of War and Peace or any such title.
Off I went to a fifth grade classroom to read Life in the Neck New Friends. The guarded looks I received as I entered soon turned to smiles as I began to read Delaney’s story and have some fun with my audience. It is an unwritten rule somewhere that a middle school student should never show an adult that they are actually enjoying something. That’s just not cool or whatever the word is today. However, before I finished the story, there were hands up wanting to tell me about animals in their own backyards. Many even stopped to thank me for reading as they left the room headed to their first hour class. I call that success!
My time at the Middle School was not over yet. My next stop was the DCD room. As a retired teacher of a number of years, I had to look up just what DCD stood for. It is developmental coordination disorder which is a chronic neurological condition. Whatever, the students and I had a great time. We connected!
Life in the Neck New Friends was the book that the students were reading for another literacy activity within the school called “Battle of the Books”. I was honored to have had my book chosen to be read by this group of students. They knew the story which only added to the fun of my visit. We had time to play a game that I call “Name That Character”. I read a sentence or two animal description and they had to tell me who I was talking about. For example: his big ears and great hearing kept him out of danger most of the time. That would be Rocket the rabbit of course! I did not and could not stump them.
One of the young ladies asked, “What was your inspiration for writing the story?” She blew her teachers away with the question. Before leaving they asked me to sign a copy of the book to leave in their classroom. What a magnificent tribute to a remarkable morning.