When I was in third grade, I was very awkward and shy (but who isn’t). Picture a skinny eight-year-old girl with red-haired pigtails and buck teeth. That was me. I sat at my desk and paid attention to my teacher.
One particular day, I wasn’t happy. I had talked back to the fifth-grade teacher on the playground at recess for some reason (I was usually very quiet and well-behaved) and the teacher had made me stand at the wall (which meant I couldn’t play on the playground and had to suffer, standing by a wall, watching everyone else play).
I was guilty. I knew it. I was in tears by the time recess was over and I returned to my third-grade classroom. My teacher, Mrs. Gray, obviously could tell I was upset by something, so she took me out in the hall and asked me to calm down. Then, she did something I’ve never forgotten: she got the newest addition to the class library and let me read it first, sitting on the floor outside the door of the third-grade classroom.
It was Two Bad Ants, by Chris Van Allsburg. In this picture book, ants have discovered a special new crystal and they travel to find it in the kitchen. Two ants get away from the group and face all sorts of adventures. It is a perfect picture book: the text follows the perspective of the ants, but the pictures let the reader see that the crystal is sugar and the dark sea is a cup of coffee.
I’ve remembered this book because of the emotions surrounding the reading of it. Reading it helped me feel better. I could go back into the third-grade classroom without any tears.
My journal entry for that day (a regular assignment from my teacher):
Sep. 22, 1989
I had a bad day.
I like Mrs. Gray. Today was P.E.
I still find that books help me when I’m feeling down. Isn’t it great that we live in a world of words? Isn’t it great that words can help us deal with life? I love books and I love reading.