There’s always one who’s bored. One who’s chatty. One who’ll volunteer to sing the Lion Sleeps Tonight with you (possibly because she feels sorry for you at your sad attempts at singing it solo). But there’s always that one who looks so engaged you’re not surprised when you’re going around the circle to ask them what they like to do and she says reading.
It’s the Antigua Public Library Easter Camp and you’re reading from your own Musical Youth (that moment when Shaka, teased about the darkness of his skin turns to Pappy for reassurance) – incidentally where the singing of The Lion Sleeps Tonight came in; from Country Club Kids, a story found in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary edition and Other Writings (Rosada reflecting on how she and her grandmother Chacha bonded over her involvement in tennis, seen as a game for socie kids, but which they both take pride in her being able to do really well); and finally from Jamaican writer Diana McCaulay’s Gone to Drift, because that’s what you’re reading right now (the young protagonist bonding with his grandfather over their mutual love of fishing and the sea even as he worries about the fate of the man who has gone missing).
You discuss with them the main characters, what each excerpt has in common, the connections between each child and his/her grandparent, the thing the child loves to do that’s a special point of connection between the child and grandparent.
You hope, though all of this could be projection, that you’ve entertained and inspired them even a little.
You’ve promised to return, challenged them to read, and are curious to see if any do – little ones can be fickle that way but you hope. You hope they will, as you’ve suggested write a moment mirroring the ones in the stories, involving them and a grandfather/grandmother, aunt/uncle, mommy/daddy, or someone else who inspired and supported in them a love for that thing they love to do, and how it created a connection between them: maybe the girl whose mother, a dancer like her, introduced her to liturgical dance, the girl whose PE teacher introduced her to rounders, one of the best childhood games ever (!), the girl who likes football, the boy who likes football, the boy who likes video games (“all of them”), the girl who likes to read Nancy Drew novels, I bet she has a story in her.
Like I told them, can’t wait to hear.
The videographer from the Education Broadcasting Unit broke down his equipment right as my session was getting ready to start but I did ask the library to take some pictures. Fingers crossed. I will post them as soon as I have them.