Friday, May 05, 2006

The gift of storytelling

The baby was getting a little fussy as it was approaching his bedtime so we picked him up and took him to the front porch to calm him down and enjoy the early evening. Unlike most evenings, there was no clamour of small neighbourhood children about and so the baby was entertained by watching the occasional car go by when he wasn't pulling my hair.

And then the little girl next door wandered out. She was the shiest girl on the block and also the one most desperate to have someone to play with as her little brother was just a baby. We'd frequently see her standing on her front lawn forlornly waiting for a neighbour's child to emerge, waiting with pure ache. When she did play with the other children, she would happily but wordlessly follow them along and mimic whatever game was at hand. This was not just because of shyness; she was a recent immigrant and English was her second language. Like most children, she paid little attention to adults but over time, she overcame her shyness to occasionally join us on the porch so she could silently stare at Mats, the baby, up close. It was yesterday when she spotted us, she stopped, stared at us for a moment, and then bolted back inside.

Moments later she emerged with a stack of small books and she ran to our porch, stopped dead in front of us and looked expectantly. Ghengis took the pile of books, picked one, and began to read to her. You could see her brighten with delight. Reading fed her happiness.

I noticed that all the books had come from the Windsor Public Library. It is moments like these that make me proud to be a librarian.

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