Pacing the Cage: A jolly time reading for Week of Young Child

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Dianne Garrett and teacher Susan Peoples, with the morning Head Start class at C. Ray Williams Pre-school in Whitehall on April 1. Garrett read to the children kicking off The Week of the Young Child. Community members are invited to take a turn at reading to the youngsters the entire month of April.

I love to read, and I adore children. So there was no hesitation on my part, when asked by the Child Development Council of Franklin County to read to pre-schoolers, celebrating The Week of the Young Child.

In fact, I jumped at the chance to read to the morning and afternoon sessions of Head Start at C. Ray Williams Pre-school in Whitehall April 1.

I was honored to kick off the month-long read-a-thon by sharing one of my favorite contemporary children’s books, The Jolly Mon by Jimmy Buffett and his daughter, Savannah Jane Buffett.

It is a magical story about the Jolly Mon, who has a voice so sweet, he can sing fish out of the ocean right into a frying pan. One day he comes across a magical guitar that leads him to faraway places.

I come from the ocean with songs of the sea
No lesson for learning, just play upon me
Now go make your music in lands near and far
Orion protects you wherever you are.

With Orion as his guide, he travels all around the Caribbean spreading happiness through his songs to the people of the islands. During his journey, he has a serious confrontation with pirates, but is saved by a magical dolphin named Albion.

The story was woven from a song by Buffett with the same title.

The children loved the tale, and had some delightful thoughts of their own to interject.

The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the world’s largest early childhood education association, with nearly 100,000 members, and a network of over 300 local, state and regional affiliates.

The purpose of the Week of the Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families, and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.

The association established the Week of the Child in 1971, recognizing that the early childhood years (birth-8) lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later in life.

The Week of the Child is a time to plan how we, as citizens of a community, of a state, and of a nation, will better meet the needs of all young children and their families.

The Head Start program began in 1964, and my aunt in Dayton was one of those first teachers asked to teach in the program. It was unchartered waters, and has ended up benefiting millions of tykes.

She is now in her 80s, living with my cousin in South Carolina. Her love for children made her a great teacher. I remember visiting her class when I was a teenager, and seeing those little ones just clinging to her.

Reading to the children at C. Ray, as we Whitehall residents affectionately refer to it, was sort of my way of also honoring my aunt, Mary Gotherman Bonecutter.

I will also be reading to Head Start children later on this month at Blacklick Elementary in Gahanna. If you love children, and value giving back to your community and the leaders of tomorrow, please consider taking some time out of your day to show them you care. It only takes about 20-30 minutes, and brings so much joy to little souls. And, wait until you see how you will feel.

If interested in participating, call Dawn McDowell at 866-7133. You can volunteer to read at a program in your area.

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