Reading assignment changes outlook on today’s youth

It’s funny the way life makes you realize things sometimes. Last Wednesday, I was assigned to go to the Neighborhood Art House on the corner of 10th and Holland streets as a part of a class assignment for my Voice and Diction course.

Janae Butler, features editor

Specifically, everyone in the class was assigned to go read to the children there. I’m not going to lie; on my walk down to the Art House, I was absolutely petrified.

I am not a fan of little kids. I don’t do well with germs, whining, screaming, tantrums and all other joys that young children have to offer the world.

Granted, I’m aware that I was once that age, and I know for a fact that I was guilty of partaking in all of the above. However, my previous babysitting experiences were quite unpleasant – so unpleasant that they completely pushed me away from the thought of ever having my own children.

Nevertheless, I walked in with an open mind and the hopeful possibility that the experience wouldn’t be the death of me.

Not only was it not the death of me, but it completely changed my outlook on children. I was assigned to read with Adrianna, the cutest 8-year-old girl on the planet.

Her teacher informed her that she would be missing out on “Airplanes class” so that I could read to her. After her teacher left, she said to me: “I don’t mind missing that class. It’s for boys, and it’s boring anyways.”

I knew right then that we would be off to a fantastic start.

I let Adrianna pick out the books she wanted me to read to her. She had a specific passion for sea animals and underwater life, so we chose books with that theme.

While I was reading to her about sea horses, puffer fish, swordfish and everything in between, she took the opportunity to educate me as well. She told me all about fish, their predators, defense mechanisms and more. I was completely blown away.

I asked little Adrianna how she knew so much about all these animals, and she said her mom bought her lots of picture books on them.

I was genuinely sad when it was time for me to leave. She reminded me so much of myself when I was that age, with her innocent interest for off-the-wall things.

As I was walking back to campus, all I could think about is if I were to have a daughter, I would want her to be just like Adrianna.

As I was putting on my jacket and saying goodbye to her, she said to me: “I’m so glad we got to meet. I really hope I get to see you again.”

I never would have thought in a million years that a simple 45-minute period of my day would change a mindset I thought for sure wasn’t ever going to budge.

That said, the importance of keeping an open mind was made all the more apparent  to me. Adrianna taught me a real life lesson – not to ever be stubbornly set in your ways, as you never know when a simple children’s book can come along and change your life.

JANAE BUTLER

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