Imagine a nine foot tall coconut palm with orange coconuts nestled in the crooks of the branches. It is 2:00 pm and the sun is coming down from its zenith. Its 80 plus degrees but with a small breeze.
A white lady of a certain age, sits on a backless bench with Ophelia, the picture book, open on her lap. Two grade school girls sit on the bench beside her. If you continue to watch the scene you will remember the magic of reading. Each turn of the page calls more children to the shade of the coconut tree and the story of the wonderful Ophelia. The first four crowd onto the bench with their madam. Three more children come, the older one directs the two younger kids to get another bench from the dining hall. When they return that bench is filled and the last few children start to sit on the ground or stand behind the benches. Their eyes are focused on the book as madam continues the adventures of Ophelia.
When I turn the page, because of course I am the madam of a certain age, and show Ophelia in her bikini they all laugh. I think some are embarrassed to see even a pig so scantily dressed! When we reach the page where Ophelia dances one or two twirl right along with her. Near the end of the book I ask “What is Ophelia’s favorite color?” and and you could hear them all shout “RED!”
As you continue watching the group you will see Madam hand out sheets of paper. Madam then sings “Itsy Bitsy Spider” with the hand motions. When asked one little boy with a too big head and large wide eyes, that make him irresistibly adorable, quickly offers to read the poem. He reads sure and steady at times even getting into the rhythm of the verse. Two or three others take a turn to read aloud too. When a reader stumbles there are many helpful voices encouraging him with the correct word. The other children are trying to do the hand motions of the spider climbing up the spout – the trickiest part of the poem. The last reader, an older JHS boy, is struggling with the verse as he reads but when he reads the phrase “Itsy Bitsy Spider” perfectly the last time his smiles shows his accomplishment.
Then Madam takes another book, Dr. Seuss ABC. This is a joint effort between Madam and the children. You will hear a chorus each time the alphabet is read. Then the children quickly catch on to the pattern of Big A, Little A what begins with A and recite it with the appropriate letter.
The story is finished and one girl asks Madam to sing that rising song she sang in the class. So we do a few verses of “Rise and Shine”, the story of Noah’s Ark. They all stand for the last chorus. Since we are up I think it makes one of the children remember the “Hokey Pokey” so we also do the Hokey Pokey!” You will hear every laugh with Madam as she turns herself about.
When the Hokey pokey is finished Madam begs them to teach her a song. Two of the boys start a song “Joy joy joy”. Their voices are pure and melodious; they could sing with the Vienna Boys Choir. Then everyone one sings.
Joy joy joy in my heart is singing
Joy joy joy Jesus set me free.
See what the Lord has done for me
He died just to set me free
Filled my heart with melody
Joy joy joy
You then hear Madam encouraging them to go to the library and pick out a book to read. She says they can tell us about it at the next meeting of the reading club. Children carry the chairs and benches back to the dining hall and thus the first meeting of the BASCO reading club ends.