City's Children are the Gift

Posted 21 January 2014 12:00 AM by Toni "Bee" Brooks, Interactive Readings Teaching Artist for Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Christmas in The City is always special and for me - it brings back interesting memories. The greatest part about it is the joy it grants the families. (Lunch and Santa, gifts and an amusement park – Oh My!)

I was near the entrance with my jingle bells- a-ringing hello along with Chicken Little and even The Cat in the Hat. I had emotions to hold back too – for I am one of the most hope-filled persons in the ‘welcome line’. After all, I still rest on the yellow blanket I received from the homeless shelter back in 2001. Still, this was a day to give a piece of happy and I …was…ready! Ready with my well-thought-out-plan…which ended up changing …because so many people love The Grinch.

I had planned to read teeny sections of the book to tiny crowds of youth – but I had a storm of kids come over asking where, when, and one young man from a charter school who asked how do you read the book?

Aha ! – how was the question and explaining that became one of the gifts they took away that day. First I asked in a very dull manner, “How do you want a story read to you exciting or boring ? ‘Exciting!”, they said. I replied in an uproarious manner, “Then make me WANT to hear your story”!

Many of the kids read Seuss’s words with much exuberance. The atmosphere changed quickly when I got them to practice facial expressions and gallop with their limbs. I told them, “To make a book come alive add emotion to your face and limbs and if you do it well – people will remember the story you tell” Out came the props, and over to our tables came more Cindy Lou’s, Max’s, Grinches and ‘WhoVille Citizen” in the form of diverse kids desiring to don ---reindeer ears! It was exciting to see shy youth transform with an angel halo, or a three-year-old switch from awful to nice while pretending to be The Grinch.

We raffled off five books at Christmas in the City – and many wreaths were designed too. I am most happy that nearly 100 kids in the city - and the parents who peaked over their shoulders - now know how to tell a story with a bit of pomp...despite any circumstance they may find themselves in.

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