I was thrilled- I was going to be reading to the kindergarten girls during their library period. Reading aloud to children is one of my favorite things to do, so I was thankful for the opportunity. I had a few of my favorite books picked out and was ready to go. The head librarian thought it would be a good idea if I employed a technique that she did sometimes - use some of the picture books that she had multiple copies of so that each student could have their own book and follow along. I'd never done that before with a group of kids, but I agreed to try it since I figured I'd heard her do it many times and after all, how hard could it be?
In came the kindergartners. We divided the boys from the girls; the boys went off to their story time and I took the girls and sat down in the reading area in the library. I got them settled, handed them their copies of the books so they could read along with me, and away we went. I got to the beginning of the story and started reading. When it was time to turn the page, I looked up and saw that some of them were still open to the title page, and I said, "Oops! Let's all get on the same page now..." I got up and went around the circle and fixed everyone's book so that it matched where I was reading. "Okay, " I told them, "Let's continue." I read the second page, looked up again to tell them to turn the page, and found that half of them were back on the title page, some were already at the end of the book, and some were actually where I was. (I now realized how amazing that was). "Let's make sure all our pages match!" I announced cheerfully, as I got up once again and got everyone on page two, reread the text quickly, and we finally all turned the page together.
At the end of page three, we were making headway. I was just telling them to turn to page four, and in came three little girls from the class who had been out with another teacher. Oh. I hadn't expected more kids to come in. So, I quickly got them their books and found them a seat, summed up the story thus far, and had them find the page in their books where the rest of us were. Most of that involved me getting up (again) and opening their book to the right page, quieting the waiting girls who had been there from the beginning, and making sure that the squirmiest of the girls were actually making their way from showing off their headstands to sitting upright on the furniture.
Page four. Success. As we turned to page five, I checked everyone's illustrations to make sure we all matched. We didn't. I saw three girls who had returned once again to the title page, two who were viewing the closing text, three where they should be and two doing headstands and reading their books upside down. I circled 'round once again, and by this time, I realized I needed to go a lot slower and that following along and turning the page of a book might come easy as pie to me, but not to these sweet little ones who were just learning to read.
Finally - and I'm not sure how it happened- we got through the rest of the story and ended on the correct page at the back of the book. It gave me a whole new appreciation for what the librarian does and how she makes it look so simple and effortless. And it rings true in other areas of my life too- I'm always amazed at how I can see someone doing something, think "Oh c'mon, that can't be that hard," and then try it myself only to find out the reason it looked so simple when the other person was doing it is because that other person has what only time and hard work can give you - experience. We can all get there, but we gotta pay our dues just like the other guy (or, gal, in this case).
The kindergarten girls asked for another story, and then another. My faith was restored. I guess I hadn't done such a bad job after all - and maybe the next time we share a book together, it will all go a little smoother. After all, how hard can it be?