My family loves reading and I enjoy sharing books with everyone I can. That is why I often volunteer to be the Mystery Reader at my kids’ school. Each Friday, a parent, relative, or published author reads pre-selected or personally selected books to their classroom of choice. Keeping the Mystery Reader’s identity a mystery is tough because the kids are quite adept at figuring it out. In fact, my cover was blown by my son’s clever detective skills.
I entered the classroom and saw N’s teacher reading a book to the students. I figured that she was getting the crowd warmed up for me. As I observed the children’s behavior, I realized that holding their attention wouldn’t be an easy task. A room full of fidgety kindergarteners is a tough audience. But I was confident that could win them over.
When she finished reading, N’s teacher asked the children to stand up, stretch and shake their sillies out. After they had expended their excess energy, the children sat down and looked in my direction.
“Let’s welcome our Mystery Reader,” said the teacher. The kids clapped and screamed. I took a seat in the comfy rocker and introduced myself to the children.
“I’m Mr. G.,” I said. “Does anyone know whose dad I am?”
“N’s!!!!!” The class shouted in unison. N sat proudly smiling ear to ear.
“Well,” he said. “Max is a boy and Pinky is his pig.”
“Right,” I said. “And they are best buds.” I pulled out The Adventures of Max and Pinky: Best Buds and read it to the class. I used funny voices and invited them to participate in the story. When I finished, they begged for more.
“Do you want to hear another Max and Pinky story?” I asked.
“Yes!!!!” They yelled.
Next, I pulled out The Adventures of Max and Pinky: Superheroes. All of they boys yelped and hollered when I said superheroes. I read with more enthusiasm in order to make the adventure come alive. The kids were still clamoring for more after I finished that book.
“Okay kids,” I said. “I only have time for one more book and this one is a mystery.” I picked up The Adventures of Max and Pinky: The Mystery and showed it to the kids.
“Ooooooooooh,” said the kids.
As I read, I could tell that the children were enrapt by the story. I kept the tension high so they would eagerly anticipate the story’s big reveal (spolier alert: Pinky did it). I looked up a few times to notice that couple of other teachers had come in to hear about Max and Pinky.
When I finished, the kids gave me a sitting ovation. Their appause made me smile and I was relieved that I was able to keep 20 kindergarteners entertained.
“I really liked those books,” said one boy. “Thanks for reading to us.”
“Anytime,” I said. “I will come back and read to you guys again. Would that be okay?”
“Sure,” he said and gave me a high five.
When I picked up N from school, I asked him what his classmates said about my stories.
“They all liked it,” said N. “Except for one boy who thought the books were babyish.”
“Babyish?” I asked. “It seemed as if everyone enjoyed the books.”
“They did,” he said, “But this one boy just likes being difficult.”
“Do you want me to come back and read to your class?” I asked.
“Of course I do Daddy,” he said. “You are a great reader.”