Reading brings me joy. Reading to my children multiplies that joy tenfold. That’s why I’m always happy to be the Mystery Reader for my son’s class.
My son’s face always beams with pride when he sees me entering the classroom. I never tell him when I’m coming. It’s always a surprise.
During my last reading adventure, all of the second grade classes were combined. There were about 50 second graders starting at me. They were a tough crowd, but I knew I could handle them. I took my seat in the front of the classroom and pulled out my ammunition.
I started with a book titled “Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle.” The book describes the heroic journey of a feral dog who became a soldier’s best friend. Although the book was a little long, the kids gave me their undivided attention. The story was set during the Iraq war and I was able to share some of my experiences in the country with the children. They were impressed that I had traveled so far. By the end of the book, they were rooting for Nubs to be reunited with his Marine friend back in the United States.
The next book was “Diary of a Fly.” In the story, a fly documents her days and shares some interesting facts about flies. I played up the humorous parts and had the kids laughing and rolling on the floor. The teacher actually had to intervene to get the kids to calm down.
The final book was “There’s a Nightmare in My Closet.” Several of the children were familiar with this book and eager to hear it. I read it slowly in a soft voice to build up the tension. When the Nightmare finally appeared, the children were filled with anticipation. They were all relieved when the main character was able to defeat the Nightmare and close his closet door.
When I finished the book, the kids gave me a round of applause and thanked me for coming.
“Did you like those books,” I asked.
“YESSSSS!!!!!” screamed the kids.
“Will you read some more?” asked one child.
“That’s all I have for today,” I said. “Maybe I’ll come later and read more books. Would you like that?”
“YESSSSS!!!!” they said.
As I gathered my things, one of the children approached me.
“I wish I could get those books,” he said.
“You can,” I replied. “Go to the public library and check them out just like I did.”
“Really?” he said.
“Sure,” I said. “They should be back on the shelf by this weekend.”
Another child tugged on my shirt with a sad look on her face. “My dad never comes to read to us,” she said as she lowered her eyes.
“Don’t be sad,” I said. “Your dad may surprise you just like I surprised N.” That made her smile.
As I was leaving, I grabbed my son and gave him a big hug.
“Which book did you like best?” I asked.
Without hesitation, he said, “Diary of a Fly.”
“Daddy,” he said. “Can I read those books when I get home today?”
“Of course you can, son,” I said. “They’ll be sitting on the counter waiting for you.” I gave him one more squeeze before he scurried back to his classroom. These are the moments that make being a dad the best job in the world.