Tuesday, August 02, 2005

story time

there are so many things i miss about elementary school: recess. no homework. workbooks. multiple-person desks. indoor recess. games like 'around the world' and 'heads up, seven up.' snack trades at lunch. but what i miss the most about those years is story time.

story time was always the most tranquil part of the day. the teacher sat on one of the kid chairs at the front of the room and we gathered around on the carpet at his or her feet. in the younger grades, they'd hold up the book in the hand-cramping, outward facing way so we could see the pictures. that was nice, but our attention spans then were minimal at best and they read very short stories. story time really got good in fourth and fifth grade, when they could branch out to longer books and didn't bother with the pictures.

i've always loved listening to someone read aloud. my mom read to us when we were kids, and there's something very comforting and magical about lying around and imagining what they're describing. and besides, during story time you could always do something else, like have your hair braided in a fancy french braid while the teacher was speaking -- until she looked over and snapped something like, 'this isn't a beauty parlor, girls.'

the most vivid memory i have of the story time is in fifth grade, which seems a little old for gathering on the carpet, but really is a perfect age for this sort of thing. during the other stories, i had been busy weaving the laces of keds sneakers in a cool pattern for all of my friends. but then mrs. huffman announced she was going to read us 'Bridge to Terabithia,' by Katherine Paterson and warned us that she'd make use of the box of tissues she placed down by her feet.

she wasn't kidding. for some reason that story resonated with me so much that even now, 16 years later, i can recall certain scenes with vivid clarity, down to the cinematography, slow motion sequences and the music i imagined would have been playing in the background. i was so caught up in Terabithia that i couldn't even concentrate on shoelaces or even getting the hang of that fishbone braid.

this weekend, as i was driving home from a barbeque and trying not to scratch my mosquito bites, i thought of how much i loved listening to stories. i was flipping the channels and happened to catch (npr) chicago public radio's program, 'Stories on Stage.' i had heard this show before, years ago, probably on some friday night when i was stuck in traffic on my way into the city. (why they always play the best stuff at prime times is beyond me) and i had been so enchanted that i didn't even notice when the gridlock opened up.

basically it's an actor reading someone's story aloud, usually with voices. the one i happened to catch this time was called, 'Harold,' written by Sara Gmitter and read by Kevin Gudahl.

it made me miss an exit on the way home, but it was worth it.

19 comments:

Ale said...

'this isn't a beauty parlor, girls.'

OF COURSE NOT! with an old ugly cow like you hanging around here!!!!! now stop yapping you old bag and continue with the story before i knock you of your seat and you'll be crawling on your knees collecting your bones till tomorrow!!!!

(...continue getting braids...)

jazz said...

i love having stories read to me too!!!

lucasjackson7 said...

the beauty parlor quote was priceless! recess was off the map at my school. we played this game called Four Square where i could dominate over those ridiculous Norseman kids who were like 7 feet tall in the 4th grade. if there ever was a professional Four Square league i would be all over that.

having stories read to me is so much better than reading the book by yourself. in the sixth grade we read Of Mice and Men and I got to read all of George's parts. Since then I've been addicted to Steinbeck and books forever.

also, some kid has turned TAL episodes into MP3 format, check it out: http://mirrors.geekymedia.com/talmp3/

Jon said...

So many good things to remember about back then… The foursquare (with all the ridiculous rules), the tether ball (also heavily regulated. I don’t know anyone that ever allowed bottle caps, that’s just not cool), red rover and jumping out of the swings (greatly frowned upon, but entirely too much fun… even after my friend Tommy broke both of his wrists). I have never admitted this in public or private before, but I used to cheat at Heads up 7 up. I spent the majority of my time memorizing peoples shoes. Then I’d put my head down in such a way so that I had enough of a view of their shoes to make a positive ID when they walked by to tap my thumb. You can go ahead and chalk that one up to the huge list of issues that I have.

And you really can’t beat story time, it’s the joy of reading without having to do any work. You can just close your eyes and really let your imagination have at it.

cadiz12 said...

yeah, they seemed to think the beauty parlor line never gets old.

oh my god FOUR SQUARE! that was awesome. 'no teaparties' is a great rule, even for life in general. we had a chinese jumprope (inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, ON) fad, too, during third grade. tetherball kind of scared me because kids would whip it around like mad. no wonder you friend broke his wrists.

t.a.l. is the best. i'll def have to check that geekymedia thing out. my favorite story is about the 'squirrel cop.' ever heard that one? it's a riot.

cadiz12 said...

oh and jon, EVERYONE cheated at heads up seven up. if you didn't, you were really slow.

Jon said...

Yeah, but I went to a private Christian school where I lived an incredibly sheltered life… truth be told, I didn’t even know any swear words until I was in 5th grade… plus, we were playing heads up 7 up with like 15 people in our class… do the math…

omar said...

I must admit, I have no idea what you people are talking about. Tether ball? Four square? What are those?

Lou (a.k.a. rainpuddles) said...

Cadiz- I've never listened to books on tape and it sounds like something fun to do in the car but I think I'd miss my country music radio time!

Jon- I went to Catholic elementry school and I thought I was the only person to cheat at that game... I don't know if it's a good thing that there's other people out there who've cheated at that game or not...

Omar- I don't know what Tether ball is either and I never knew the rules for Four Square )and I only think I know what the game is).

Jon said...

What kind of school didn’t have four square? We always had lines to play… and has everyone here seen Napoleon Dynamite? At the end of the movie, he’s playing tetherball… I’m actually having trouble maintaining my balance having just learned that some people don’t know what these games are… I need to go lie down…

cadiz12 said...

omar, i don't really know the rules of tetherball, but it's basically a pole in the middle of a circle with a ball that is attached to the top with a rope. and people stand around it and bat the ball at each other.

four square is a game in a square on the ground divided into four. the object is to bounce the ball into and out of someone else's square and not allowing the ball to bounce twice or out of your own square.

dude, i can't believe i never mentioned kickball. kickball was the best. (basically baseball rules, but with the red rubber ball of dodgeball and you kick it instead of using a bat.)

r.p., with my long commute, i've tried books on tape, but it's quite a commitment. this show is more like 10-minute short stories -- perfect for part of the drive, leaving plenty of time for singing along to the radio.

cadiz12 said...

btw, if you get a chance, listen to 'harold.' i cant' really speak for the other stories on there, but that one was nice.

omar said...

Now kickball is my game. We played that a lot.

But no, neither four square nor tether ball are sounding at all familiar to me. And I never saw Napoleon Dynamite either.

Lou (a.k.a. rainpuddles) said...

Thanks Cadiz,

Now I now what you mean about tetherball, but we never had it at my elementry school. There was a 4-Square at the school I went to for Playschool and Kindergarten, but I never knew how to play it! And yes, kickball, aka, Chinese Baseball, rocks!

Ale said...

yo- how about its time for a NEW story over here!

-just rompiendo balls- sori :)

cchief said...

I loved story time in school, too. I am sad because my third-grade teacher read us this magical book that I've been looking for ever since. The details are fuzzy. I think it's about a girl named Maureen who goes to live in this magical, mysterious house, where the paintings come to life (among other things). I am so sad I've been unable to remember the name of the book (I even enlisted a librarian's help, but she couldn't help me). And I also have become entranced when listening to Stories on Stage while in the car. I even sat in my car waiting for a segment to end, spending about 20 minutes in the driveway.

Syar said...

I watch disney's recess, and had a brief stint in the american education system at age 8, so thankfully I know all about story time, tether ball and four square.

i remember my 2nd grade teacher reading us this wacky book about a building that doesn't have the 13th floor and the class on the non-existent 13th floor was really wacky. as in, wackily wacky. it was a great book. too bad I forgot what it was called.

also, I love getting my hair braided! if I could open up a spa where "therapy" involves playing with your hair and a good dose of writing shapes and sentences on your back using just fingers, I'd be all set.

cadiz12 said...

that's easy, syar, it's 'sideways stories from wayside school.' i always liked the one where the teacher wiggled her ears. ah, that's a classic.

recess is a pretty good show; the kid from sleepless in seattle is one of the main characters -- the kid with the cap, i can't remember his name.

sorry, cc, i have no idea about that book. but 'the mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankenweiler,' was a good one, too. 'the chocolate touch,' and 'bunnicula.' wow, all these titles are coming back to me.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I hated school.

My granpa told the best stories. So do my uncle, my cousins, and brothers, my mother. Must be the 'oral tradition' thing.