This week I had my final meeting with my United Way of North Central Florida Reading Pal. We'd finished the book we were reading together (Dying to Meet You, #1 in the 43 Cemetery Road series), and as a parting gift I gave her my Merriam-Webster Illustrated Children's Dictionary. I can get another one, and she always enjoyed leafing through it. I know from my own life's reading that one can have a great deal of pleasure leafing through encyclopedias and dictionaries, an experience that's simply not the same online.
We weren't scheduled to meet this week because school's ending, but she said she wanted to get together. To my surprise and delight, she pulled a book off the school shelves and read to me about libraries. We didn't have a plan or an official reason to be meeting, she just wanted to read together one last time.
I was impressed again at how far this child has come since our first meeting in September. We've gone from mostly picture filled books to chapter books, and she's been reading The Golden Goblet on her own since I gave it to her as a holiday gift.
I'm impressed too by my fellow adult Reading Pals. These are folks who volunteer at least one hour a week to read with a youngster who's behind in her or his reading skills. Each of them brings a passion for books and the written word, and we all strive to help children learn to love books as much as we do.
I don't know how much of an impression I make on my Reading Pals, but I like to think that someday, 20 or so years from now, a mom or a dad will pull out a book, turn to their child and say, "Let me tell you about this crazy lady who loved books, would get all excited about them, and who read with me every week..."