I know when a story I am reading to children works – because they sit, wide-eyed, staring at me – with hardly any movement.
And what makes that happen?
Sometimes it’s because the story is a familiar one that they almost all recognize and love – because repetition is so very comforting. But often it’s because the story is about something personal – something they can imagine maybe happening to them- whether it’s funny or surprising, sad, or just a bit frightening and suspenseful.
This is the way it was with the book we read on Friday at circle time at Play Shoppe – Llama, Llama, Red Pajama. When it’s time for Baby Llama to go to sleep, after Mama Llama has read him a story, kissed him good night, and gone downstairs, Llama Llama Red Pajama starts to worry.
“Where is my mama? “Boohooing, hollering, stomping and pouting, jumping and shouting. For what if Mama Llama’s gone?”
By now the eyes on the children were huge. Many of them knew the story , but still, no matter how many times the story’s been read, what if, this time, Mama Llama really was gone?
But, no, of course she wasn’t gone – because there she came back telling Llama, Llama Red Pajama “Baby Llama, what a tizzy! Sometimes Mama’s very busy.”
This is the moment when Matilda, a little girl in our Play Shoppe circle spoke up to tell us all, “That’s what I told my little brother the other night when he was crying and fussing for his nook. I told him ‘What a tizzy’.”
I love how the images and words from stories stick in a child’s mind, become their own, a part of them and a part of their family culture, and then are shared at just the right moments.
And I believe all the children felt relieved, secure and cozy and will remember these words that Mama Llama tells Baby Llama –
“Mama Llama’s always near, even if she’s not right there.”
Especially big sister, Matilda.