This morning I’m going to Pittman Elementary School to make a video reading CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS for Reading Is Fundamental. If you’re unfamiliar with RIF, it’s a national organization more than half a century old. This is from it website:
“RIF creates needs-based content and targeted programs that align key literacy issues with proactive and measurable solutions. Our efforts begin with books and continue with resources, activities, and professional development for educators, parents, and literacy volunteers to ensure that reading turns into a journey of opportunity for all children.
“For over 50 years, RIF has built a legacy grounded on the basis that all children have the right to learn to read. In partnership with volunteers, companies, and community organizations, RIF has distributed more than 420 million books and resources and has impacted the lives of 72 million children nationwide.”
I’m thrilled to be doing SOMETHING for kids again after this long year of one cancellation after another. I’ve worked a few times in the past with our local RIF so it will be good to be with them again. I’m also happy the chosen site for this recording is Pittman because I have a history there too. Our lifelong friend, Maryann Wakefield, served as principal there. I wrote an activity story about their school mascot, Oliver the Rat, and in 2005 I wrote a book for a new series of Random House books called MISS GRUBB, SUPER SUB, A WRITE-IN READER, inspired by the teachers at Pittman. I named the school in the book Pittman. The series was subtitled Reading and Writing on Your Own, and I was asked to write the letter to parents explaining the purpose of series that appeared on the inside cover of every book in the series.
Today I’m going to see the kids at Holland Elementary School in Springfield. Principal there is Gary Tew whom I’ve known for years. When I was researching for a Step Into Reading book, MISS GRUBB, SUPER SUB! that came out in 2005, Gary was at Pittman Elementary School where my friend Maryann Wakefield had been principal before that.
When Random House asked me to do the book, it was for a new series called “Write-in-Readers,” meaning that authors would need to leave spots throughout the telling for young readers to add to the story with their own words and pictures. Also by request I wrote the inside page of introduction, called “Dear Parent,” that went in all the books in the series.
I went to Pittman Elementary to interview several people about their jobs so that my Super Subb would have the right information. Among those who let me interview them were the custodian, the librarian (Mrs. Lairimore), the nurse (Mrs. Teeling), the head cook (Mrs. Farmer), and, of course, Mr. Tew. I enjoyed the day at Pittman and loved writing the book.
So here we are eleven years later and Gary has invited me to Holland. I’ll take along a copy of Miss Grubb to show the kids that their principal is a famous man with his name in a book!
My good friend Susan Hutchens has been subbing this week in a third grade class in Colorado. Yesterday she sent me a note to say that she had just read my book MISS GRUBB, SUPER SUB to her kids. I got out the book and ran across one of the activities that Miss Grubb dreams up for her charges. She hands them empty paper bags, takes them to the playground, and instructs them to fill their bags with what they see, hear, smell, and feel. She starts by placing fluffy clouds and happy birdsong into her bag.
When Susan told me about the great kids in her third grade class, I suggested that today she give them all bags to fill when they go to their playground. I’m eager to hear what the students collect. They promised to let me know!
My suggestion to you and the kids you know is to fill your own bags today on the playgrounds of your life. It’s an exercise that reminds me that we are surrounded by splendid things, many of which are worthy of a poem and all of which can make the day a little brighter.