Children at Tree Land School loved to come to class. Sometimes kids would show up early to get started on their work so they could get finished and go to Learning Avenue to have fun with books and fun learning activities there.
During Reading Miss Landers, their teacher, insisted that the whole period be spent in some kind of reading activity.
When their assignments were done, some students liked to read with one of the two stuffed students. These bears were named Mr. President and Magenta Man, the classroom’s superhero.
Others would head to The Frog Stairway so they could read to the many frogs who were there. Some were in pictures on the walls and of course, Kermit and some of his friends clinging to the banister while they listened intently as students read to them.
In good weather one boy always asked if he could take a buddy to The Chocolate Porch and take turns reading in the shaded porch where all kinds of plants made fresh oxygen. He always said, “I love the fresh air on the porch. Who knows, maybe the plants like to hear a good story too?”
But one of the most favorite activities was reading recorded stories. The children just loved it when the chime sounded and the narrator said, “Ding, turn the page.” Children liked to say that part with the recording at each page turn. Students also enjoyed reading along with the voice as they traveled together through the story.
Miss Landers wanted the students to know lots of stories. So she bought a couple of books for each week at several levels of reading. Every reading group had two required ‘book of the week’ stories to listen to at least once daily Monday through Thursday. These books usually disappeared after that week to help kids learn to grab an opportunity when it was there.
But on Fridays they could choose any book they wanted from a special cabinet which was only open one day a week. On that special Dessert Reading Day students weren’t required to keep the place like on other days. On that fun day kids could act the stories out, sing certain parts, make illustrations to go with the story at hand, or gather a group of listeners and ‘be the teacher’ reading with dramatic expression while showing the pictures with great passion.
One Friday at lunch a students asked, “So, Miss Landers, what book will we have in Learning Avenue next week?” Well, the teacher was stumped because she was running out of taped books, all too soon. She had been to every store in town. (This was before things could be purchased online.)
For a while the problem was solved with computer stories which even allowed the students to play on the page before moving on through the story. They all loved it, but that supply eventually dwindled although Tree Land School had the biggest collection most people had ever seen.
Before long, a new kind of recorded story started showing up at Learning Avenue. Miss Landers had been working on this project on weekends where she picked some of her favorite stories and had friends record them for the students.
These amateur recordings were packaged into plastic bags just like the others the children had used all year. The teacher and her friends had worked hard to make interesting “turn the page” sounds including chimes, bells, tiny tunes, etc.
One bright day The Man With the White Hair tiptoed into the classroom to hand something to the teacher. The students had seen him helping at the school many times. A sharp young man heard the man and teacher talking and his ears perked up. He said, “That’s the voice! That guy reads us the Stories of the Week for this week!” This little elfin guy was so thrilled to figure it out.
The Man With the White Hair just smiled and said, “I guess that means I’m classroom famous.” The whole class quickly agreed.
Every time they read a story with his voice, they would say, “I know him. He’s classroom famous!” Some would exclaim, “He really likes this story” or “The Man With the White Hair is our friend!”
This gentlemen who had generously volunteered many hours to record some of Miss Landers’ favorite stories always claimed one of his finest moments was when he realized that he was indeed classroom famous!
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.