Right now I am sitting in the Morningside library listening to the sounds. I’m over in the corner, behind some tan metal bookshelves. There’s a librarian helping a student find a book. She’s telling the student something about the author’s last name. This reminds me of my mother. She just recently retired from the Elk Point-Jefferson School after serving as the school system’s librarian for thirty-five years. She taught library skills, which is essentially the process of acquainting students with the library and showing them how to locate things and utilize the services the library has to offer. I remember always feeling kind of awkward as a kid when my class went to the library to see my mom. None of my friends’ parents were teachers at the school, so I was the lone teacher’s kid. To my memory, my mom didn’t give me any preferential treatment or really embarrass me in any way. The only instances in which I would be singled out were in anecdotes my mom would tell that included her family, which naturally included me. It’s a common thing for teachers to do – tell stories about themselves that relate to what’s being discussed in class. Since I was included in many of the stories my mom would tell, several of the students would look at me when my mom said my name in the story. Then as the story progressed, on cue with any twists or turns it would take, my fellow students would again look at me to see my reaction.

My mom’s greatest contribution to the school, in my opinion, is the way she reads stories to early grade school students. The students would all gather around her and sit on the floor while she sat in front on a chair. Then she would read a book to them, holding it so that they could all see the pictures. My mom has a gift for storytelling, and she has this ability to change the tone and inflection of her voice. She adapts her voice to different characters’ dialogues, and her voice would grow in excitement along with the action of the story, or diminish, whichever the story called for. Virtually all young children love being read to, and my mom capitalized on this fact. The students loved her. Many of them often gave her hugs. When I was a bit older and in high school, I would on occasion be in the library while my mom was reading to the children. I observed the way my mom told a story, and I was able to realize just how good she is at what she does. The stories were always short, just children’s books, so I could stand there and watch my mom read the whole story. As the plot thickened, I watched the students lean forward from their positions on the floor. They would all lean closer to my mom, their ears perked, their nervous systems churning in anticipation. My mom literally held the children on the edge of their seats. This is how my mom sucked me into literature at a very young age. I was even more fortunate than the students, because I would get to view these types of performances on a nightly basis.

While watching my mom read to the children, I realized how lucky I was to have my mom as my mom. You can’t force someone to like something. And I realize that people are capable of learning to like something, but my love for stories came naturally. I don’t remember ever not liking something my mom read to me – and she read A LOT to my brother and I. For me, it was always enjoyable.

One Response to “Listening”

  1. fuglsang says:

    Reminds me of my own youth. My best friend’s mom would often substitute. On those days Brian would sit in the back and hide. I also had a friend whose mom was the librarian. I am pretty sure Jeff got tired of being told his mom was Hot.

    The purpose of the Observation Deck is to help writers break out of a writer’s block. The little assignments are supposed to inspire creativity (rather than actually producing a response to the deck assignment.

    I’m guessing it worked. To some degree.