Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Samantha Can Read!

The school year is only two weeks underway and Samantha read a book to me today! Samantha is in First Grade. Last year she was one of our kindergartners. A sweet younger sister of another girl in the program, she brought out the little mothers in the other girls. They held her hand, helped her through the ropes, cuddled and coddled her. She was very much the adored dependent. This year, she’s returned for the program but is no longer among the youngest kids. A new group of kindergartners is being taken under wing. As a result, Samantha is given a little breathing space and so I was able to talk to her this morning. She came by as I was sitting at a short table playing cards with some older girls. When I asked if she was in first grade this year, she nodded and told me with wide eyes and scared words “We have to learn letters and numbers. We have to learn to read.” I asked her if she would read a book to me when she learned to read. Something went on inside her head and she excitedly told me she could read me a book right now. So I excused myself from the card table and took Samantha’s hand as she led me to the reading room. There she went to the set of simple new readers and sorted through them. This is the same set that I got when my now grown son, Andy, was first starting to read. Samantha worked her way through a tale of Dot and a hat and a cat and a dog and a rag hat. In the beginning I saw that Samantha, in her hurry, was “telling the story” from memorization instead of reading it, as she referred to “one hat” as opposed to “a hat” as the text was written. So I had her slow down and she actually read the rest of the book, getting all the words right, and sounding out a few just to be sure. It was such a magical moment. I was so proud of her and told her so. I couldn’t help but share with her how much I love reading and love the fact that she’s a reader. Just as we finished, her mom looked through the door, as she was getting ready to leave. Her mother does not speak much English, and I am not sure whether she is able to read, even in her own language. But her Mom did understand how excited I was to be able to share reading with Samantha. Once again, I shake my head in wonderment that I get to participate in the magical moments of these kids. I am reminded of the story of Jesus where he welcomes the little children to come to him and reminds us to receive His love with childlike wonder. (Mark 10:13-31) This is what God gets to show us in our work at Jubilee Reach. We are reminded what it is like to be a child and discover new gifts and skills. And we get to be His hands on these children: showing them our love and joy in their learning, just as he does with us every day.

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