Using Excitement to Inspire Quiet Reading

Last Saturday, I had the privilege of presenting (for the 3rd or 4th year) at the Stockton Record’s Family Day in the Park, an annual public celebration in Stockton, CA. I had three 20-minute performance slots, one in the enclosed King Arthur’s Court (a tent) and one with a mic on an open stage. Engaging 60-80 people of different ages at once requires a great deal of energy and enthusiasm–particularly when most people are passers-by. Some performers on the open stage sang to danceable pre-recorded music. Others offered candy to volunteers. Meanwhile, high school bands and drill teams marched by occasionally, and surrounding booths offered everything from free goldfish to face painting. Amid all the competing excitement, however, I wondered if I as a performer had it wrong. Instead of presenting stories with ever greater animation, perhaps my “invitation” to books would have been more realistic had I modeled the quiet enjoyment of reading. Of course, I would have lost much of my audience immediately. But perhaps those who stayed would have concentrated more and, in turn, modeled to others the focus that reading (and listening to) stories really requires. Therein lies the irony of using excitement to inspire young children and families to read. While drumming and animated delivery works in public, my hope is to inspire the QUIET appreciation of books (!)