I have been a SMART reader for over 15 years. I signed up because I love books and I love children — what a no-brainer to volunteer to A) read, and B) be with children! But I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. I started when my own two kids were little, and now they are grown and gone, but I still love the feeling that only little kids can give you, when they see you at the classroom door and their eyes light up. “My SMART reader’s here!” And that moment, usually sometime in January or February, when it’s as if a light bulb comes on in the child’s mind, and as you’re reading a book together, this little person with so much potential that wasn’t awake yet can suddenly sound out a word, then many words, then read a sentence, then read a whole book to you. There’s just nothing like it. SMART is special because it encourages friendship and bonding between an adult and a child over a good book, and both come away from it enriched.