When my grandfather became ill, I returned to Mississippi until he passed away. Every evening, I read stories to him. Every evening. Often, I wondered if he heard me, but I read to him anyway as I had done as a child. Loudly. Bible passages, novels, news stories, even some of my favorite childhood books were read to him until he took his last breath.
My love of reading to my grandfather has transitioned to reading to school-age children in area schools. I realized that my interactions with the many children I see during the holidays as Ms. Santa must go beyond giving them toys with a temporary shelf life. Catherine Ramsey, a lifelong educator and fellow book club member, taught me by her actions at Christmas. As a gift to her, she only wanted book club members to give books to young girls. She wanted to plant seeds of loving to read while they were young. Catherine Ramsey has never met my family but their philosophies about life and education are exactly the same.
Private, public, charter schools, and daycares have all called me to visit their children to read. I have donned my famous Ms. Santa suit for the Girl Scouts. I have been the Queen of Hearts for Valentines Day and I have dressed as a leprechaun to cheer on test scores in March for Buena Vista Enhanced Option School. I have been Spiderwoman at Grace Eaton and a Reading Princess at Hull-Jackson Montessori. Name a holiday or occasion and I have a costume to help incorporate into a story. My visits may seem outlandish to the casual observer but many educators encourage me to come often. My visits also bring community into the classroom and introduce children to professionals who not only work but serve. I have managed to recruit other entrepreneurs to join me. Why should I have all the fun?