For several years I was a reading buddy for first graders a public school; I listened while children who needed to practice read to me. We chatted a lot, too. I loved my time with six and seven year olds.
This year I talked my way into a couple of new volunteer jobs in two different city schools. I'm a mentor to a child in one; we eat lunch together, play games, chat (recurring theme, that chatting), and I try to act mentor-ish, dispensing advice like "be sure to eat that applesauce! Yum!" We may read books at some point, but for now we're having fun with Candyland, which I lost five times in a row last week.
Then, because I love reading aloud, I found a gig as a story lady for a second-grade class at another school. These second graders are well-read! On my first visit, they reeled off names of authors they like, and everyone was eager to talk about books. My kind of people. I read The Three Cabritos, Eric Kimmel's Tex-Mex version of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, which features a chupacabra instead of a troll. The second graders liked that one so much that I returned the next time with a more traditional version of the tale, by author-illustrator Paul Galdone.
I don't know if you're familiar with Galdone's book, but his troll is one ugly son of a gun. You just know he'd stink. His teeth are very yellow, which grossed out and intrigued the second graders. When I finished reading the book, we had some time to chat. The word "disgusting" kept coming up. One girl said, "If I was the second billy goat, I would have taken a toothbrush and brushed that troll's teeth!" Many nodded thoughtfully at that comment. I hope she'll write that version of the story; I'd love to read it!
The Three Cabritos
by Eric Kimmel; ilustrated by Stephen Gilpin
Marshall Cavendish, 2007
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
by Paul Galdone
Sandpiper Clarion Books trade paperback edition, 1981
Image borrowed from Barnes & Noble's bn.com