Jimmy Greene: There’s nothing like sharing the joy of reading with a child

Published 10:24 pm Sunday, May 14, 2017

By Jimmy Greene

Special to the Salisbury Post

This morning I read a book to some awesome children at God’s Little Blessings Child Care as part of Smart Start Rowan’s “Read to Me” initiative. This activity challenges members of the community to read a book to a class of students at various child care facilities across the county.

It was my third year in a row reading a story, my first time at this facility, and my third year in a row that it fulfilled my soul.

Smart Start Rowan will explain to you the benefits of this program. They can explain how important reading a book is to children no matter what the age. They will explain the benefits each individual child receives from the interaction and the joy of a group reading. Smart Start will share statistics on the positive impact that effective early child care has on a community.

What Smart Start cannot explain is the effect it has on the reader, me.

As part of the process I choose the book for my group. When I showed up to select the book, my mind stopped thinking about work, about coaching, about insurance, about stress, and caused me to focus on children. This task feels just as heavy as working on a huge proposal for work. I concentrated hard on something significant to choose for my book. I wanted connection. I chose a book about going to the Farmer’s Market. Lots of colors and lots of food, perfect for me to associate with and explain.

I have no idea why but I always get nervous before my reading. For some reason, I worry that I won’t connect and scared I will be a negative influence. You see, for the third year in a row, I was privileged enough to have another class where I was the minority.

On reading day, I showed up and was greeted with all smiles. A table full of well-mannered children gazed upon this tall goofy man with gray hair and a tie. All their eyes locked in with wonder, worry, shyness, unsureness and excitement all rolled into one. After some small talk, we opened our book and began our journey, and it was a wonderful journey! We learned about fruits, vegetables, animals, money and shopping. We all worked on our colors of the food. We shared which foods we love. We practiced smelling flowers. This simple act caused me to stop and smell a flower in on the way to work. I also need to share this official fact, my group made the best dog barks in the world! I learned like I do every year, or should I say reminded, about love.

After our book reading, it was so refreshing to notice the change in those little ones. Those eyes and faces had some different emotions on display. They only showed happiness, love and fulfillment. My group all transcended from very little communication to all hands turning pages and talking about everything they saw on those pages. When we were done, we all shared hugs. I got a hug from everyone and we did what everyone does now — we took a selfie!

I can only tell you of my experiences and all of the emotions I get to experience with this blessing. This is just my opinion. The fact that I write all of this only two hours after my reading will hopefully express the joy I have.

It’s now time for everyone who reads this to share my feeling. Now. You don’t have to wait until next year although I encourage you sign up and participate. The joy of reading to a child will enhance you. It is a blessing. Go share a journey with a child through a book.

Jimmy Greene is on the board of Smart Start Rowan.