One building, one adult, one kid, and one book

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 11:15pm

The greatest gift a young child can ever receive, is to be read to, and then have the desire to read on his own. People young and old, love to be read to. Regardless of our age, having a story told to us is a powerful experience. It's an organic exchange of energy; the book becomes the nexus between the giver and the receiver of the content. Most importantly, the giving of time is required for this contract to hold up, and give the experience some traction.

     Children's books are structured in a layout of simple and declarative sentences: nouns, verbs and an adjective or adverb is all you need. "See Spot run." Subject, verb, and direct object. However, it's how these words are spoken that makes the difference. It takes energy from the giver, to hold the attention of the receiver. Punctuation, is an important method to create tension in a story. Exclamation points get the receiver's attention. Get it! Moreover, vocal inflection creates tension in the simplest of narratives. Wild or minimal hand gestures and facial contortions can also create and accelerate conflict and drama. (All of this stuff also happens in a staged play, which in nothing more than a story being told to us by some actors.) We all need stories, regardless of our age.

       Out on the quiet end of Martha's Vineyard, there stands what was once one room school house. It is now the one room Aquinnah Public Library. The school was in operation until 1968. (It once acted as a morgue, when a ship sank off Devil's Bridge near the Gay Head Lighthouse.) Children entered the school by the front door; boys on one side, girls on the other. The peg coat racks are still evident from that long ago time. 

       The building has intrigued me for decades, so last week I decided to go inside and have a look. It was what we'd imagine a library to look like: stacks, periodicals, a DVD collection, et al. There were some old photographs on the walls. It was a simple place. I heard a booming and commanding female voice coming from the other side of a small partition. I furtively positioned myself in the stacks, and saw a young child who was maybe one and a half years old, looking in rapt attention at the woman with the booming voice, as she read nouns and verbs with power and conviction—the kid didn't miss a syllable. So there it was, a young life being changed forever in one room, with one adult and one book. So simple, yet so profound. Read!