I became involved with Smart by attending Stephanie Oliver’s 60th birthday party 10 years ago, where she gave us a mini-presentation about Smart and asked people to buy books for Smart instead of presents for herself.
I love children’s books, and, being a graphic designer, love pointing out all the little stories occurring in the illustrations, as my reading partner and I read a book together.
Communication with the kids as well as reading to them, or them to me, or acting out parts of the story, all seem to help the children with their reading skills. One student did an interpretive dance as I read her the story, when she was bored with just reading one day.
Some kids want to be read to most of the year, and then, wow me with a perfect reading when we do a group read, where all the kids read two pages of the story and show the pictures to the others. It is as rewarding for them as it is for me, for them to succeed with their peers.
I also use opportunities to help with reading skills, by sending postcards to my kids when I happen to be on a trip during a week or two of Smart. They get to receive mail, read the card to the group and learn about another place.
One time, I and another reading partner had both been to Australia. We gave a show and tell with globes to teach how far away Australia is, and got ready to read books brought back from down under with the group, when one child asked if we saw each other when we were both in Australia!
Lots of sweet memories of all my Smart kids, and the way their eyes light up as they rush into the Smart room and see me waiting to read with them, keep me coming back each year.
Happy birthday Smart!