It was a damp and cool morning when I arrived at Mattaponi Elementary School on Friday October 1, 2010. The school sat quietly nestled beneath an overcast sky and I walked briskly into the building, eager to meet the staff. I received a warm welcome from the secretary who quickly directed me to the auditorium to set up for my stage presentation.
My visit to Mattaponi was multifaceted. I was to inspire the children to read, introduce them to Shyann by reading my second book It’s Your Birthday Shyann! and to prepare them for the upcoming Capital Book Festival that would be held in nearby Largo, MD on October 2, 2010. There I would also read my book and do a bit of face painting too.
From behind the stage curtain, I and my assistant listened while the Assistant Principal, Mr. Stephen Green, gave an inspiring welcome to the excited K-2nd grade students. I’m sure they were wondering what would be in store for them. But once they opened the curtains, the kids gave a very spirited round of applause for me and Shyann!
In return for their festive spirit, I gave them everything I had as I read It’s Your Birthday Shyann! to them. We chanted, gestured, learned how to say “happy birthday!” in eight different languages and learned a few cultural dances and birthday traditions too.
If you’re having a good time say “Yeah!” Kid’s were learning that they are all more alike than they are different.
Afterwards, I was overjoyed that the children lined up one by one to meet the author and get an autograph signed copy of It’s Your Birthday Shyann! and Shyann I Am!. I was happy to meet them too. A very heartfelt thank you goes out to Mattaponi from me to them. It was an experience that I’ll treasure for a long time to come.