At the end of our parking lot here at Kodo headquarters, there’s a little yellow sign. It reads, ‘Sidewalk Ends’.  I drive past it daily and without fail, I smile as I recall a poem, drawing, or song created by Shel Silverstein. One of my favorites is “Invitation”.

Invitation by Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer.
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

Many years ago I used to recite this poem to my class of preschoolers as a way of signaling that we had a new book to add to our library collection. It only took a few weeks to establish this ritual and I found that no matter when I spoke the words of the first line, all the children would pause their play and eagerly gather on the carpet. I introduced wordless books, poems, fairy tales, stories, and chapter books this way. Sometimes the literature supported the classroom interests and other times proved as catalysts for new ideas, pursuits, and investigations. My goal was clear but simple, to inspire a love of words, books, and reading.

Last week I was at a local market and the cashier, a young woman, said, “This may be odd to say, but your voice sounds familiar.” After a few minutes of puzzling together why that was, we uncovered that years ago I was one of the teachers in the preschool she attended. “You’re the story lady!”, she exclaimed. “I loved those silly poems you read to us and I still do.” The sidewalk certainly continued for this young woman.

No matter what type of program you’re in, literacy matters. We’d like to acknowledge and thank all of you who share your love of books with children. You make a lasting difference!