Tough job: sub in a first grade on the exhausted day after Halloween. They were giving me a run for my money. So I’m in the wooden teacher chair and they’re sitting on the rug. At least some of them are. I’m trying to get them to all be quiet at the same time so I can do a little teaching. We have bickering, a kid under the desks, a guy on the far periphery grabbing the wood blocks and girl complaining about her neighbor touching her. It feels just about impossible to try to get them to listen to anything at all.
Until I pull out a book. It’s a Patterson Halloween favorite, The Runaway Pumpkin. Almost instantly I have a captive audience. The boy way on the side says, “Hey, I can’t see.” And my arm motion brings him right over. The girls stop bickering and I can see the boy still under a desk looking right at the book.
What extra talking there is is about the book. Class is like a responsive instrument now, a busted guitar that’s turned into a Stradivarius. We’re all excitedly watching this crazy large pumpkin rampaging down a hill. S.D. Schindler’s illustrations are uproarious. Grandpa is on the ground waving his fist with a displaced chicken on his head. A banana peel and an indignant but unharmed chicken are stuck to the rolling pumpkin.
And we’re chanting Kevin Lewis’s delicious words:
Across the ground
round and roll-y
They liked it so much I read it to them twice. Good read alouds can save a sub!
They also enjoyed Big Dog, Little Dog by P.D. Eastman, in which Fred and Ted have the wrong-sized beds. I was impressed how they already knew (and still enjoyed) The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater and Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett.
Next year the morning after Halloween I’ll march off to my job assignment with a good book and no fear!