Once a week I listen as first graders read to me at a public school. They're children who need additional practice reading. I always benefit from additional practice listening. I don't have an official title; I'm a volunteer.
We read in a large square-shaped hallway between the first-grade classrooms at a little table and sit in little chairs. Once I went into the literacy lab with a couple of kids, but we were politely asked to leave. Two girls I know always want to go to the school library to look for books, but usually another class is in there. We don't want to disturb them. So we stick to the hallway.
Aleah is a first-grade bon vivant who reminds me of a butterfly. She needs to flutter. Fluttering works out a lot better in the hallway than in the classroom. You can get a drink of water, select a book from a little display, and exchange pleasantries or barbs with boys returning from the boys' bathroom. Aleah reads pretty well, but we still meet occasionally because we're friends from last year.
When I bring in a book of poetry, Aleah sings the poems. Recently she sang a couple of poems from Mary Ann Hoberman's The Llama Who Had No Pajama. I had picked out some easier works ("Birthdays" and "Ducks"), but Aleah wanted to read some others, too. With its tricky internal rhymes, "Brother" was harder for her, but she did enjoy figuring it out. ("I had a little brother/And I brought him to my mother/And I said I want another/Little brother for a change...")
After she finished I asked Aleah if she had any brothers.
"Mmm hmm," she said.
"How many brothers do you have?"
"Two step-brothers and..." She began to count on her fingers. She stopped at 30.
"30 in all? That's a lot," I said.
In a confidential tone she said, "Some of them aren't born yet."