A little over a month ago, I began my second semester of volunteering with the best hidden gem at UT: SEAL. I will call my reading buddy Annie after the main character in her favorite book series, The Magic Treehouse. Annie walked up to me on the first day of volunteering. At first, she was timid and shy, but once I began to talk to her about Spongebob Squarepants, she quickly became more confident and outspoken. I could tell just from listening to her large vocabulary that she read frequently.

Annie’s favorite book is Polar Bears Past Bedtime, which is part of the Magic Treehouse series. When I learned this, I made a quick mental note to research polar bears to try and talk to her about them. (Did you know that a polar bear’s skin is actually black and its fur is actually transparent with a hollow core that helps to reflect light and camouflage the bear in its quest for seals?) Going off the Magic Treehouse tidbit, I pulled half a dozen Magic Treehouse books off the shelves of the library, hoping that one of them would peak her curiosity. I shuffled over to her, arms brimming with books, and the following exchange happened:

Me: “Okay Annie, I know you like Magic Treehouse so I brought some more over. Let me know if any of these interest you.”

Annie: “Okay.”

Me: “How about Night of the Ninjas?”

Annie: “I’ve already read that one.”

Me: “Great job! What about Revolutionary War on Wednesday?”

Annie: “Read it.”

Me: “Eve of the Emperor Penguin?”

Annie: “That too.”

At this point, you may be able to recognize a pattern here, but I was not.

Me: “Blizzard of the Blue Moon!?!?!?!??!?”

Annie: “Yeah.”

Me, as I hold up the second to last book: “I’m guessing you’ve read Carnival at Candlelight too.”

Annie: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay so you’ve read all of these. You’re definitely an impressive reader. Let’s go try to find one you haven’t read at the library.”

Annie: “Wait, I haven’t read that last one.”

Me: “…”

Me: “Okay, so Night of the New Magicians it is.”

Together, we sat down to read the book. It started out being an “I read one page, you read the next” agreement, but they quickly turned into “she reads five pages, remembers me, then lets me read a page.” And let me tell you, she knew every word on every page. Annie’s passion for books is the true magic. She is the magician of reading.

– Grace Heineman, Harris Elementary volunteer


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