Ah, Dr. Seuss.
Once a week, I have to do “story time” with each of my two main classes. I was a bit apprehensive when I went along to the first one. I wasn’t entirely sure whether they’d listen, or what I was meant to do other than just read. And for them, it was clearly a well-known routine – as soon as I put my head around the door, they squealed with excitement, shouting “story time, Hayley-teacha!”, and began dragging their chairs to the front of the classroom. You know, those tiny little infant sized brightly coloured chairs. One of them was placed at the front for me, facing the group, as they all settled down, some of them on the chairs and some of them cross-legged on the floor.
I sat down uncertainly, completely hiding the miniscule chair from view. I’ve brought three books, I said, holding them up, and you can choose which one we read. I got no further than the first title, because that first title was There’s A Wocket In My Pocket by the legendary Dr. Seuss.
What is Wocket? asked a chorus of intrigued voices.
Oh dear. I suddenly realised just how much explaining was necessary with this particular literary masterpiece, when my audience was a group of Korean kindergarteners. Filled, as it is, with monsters whose names sound suspiciously like the household objects near which they live (a Nooth Grush on a Toothbrush, a Vug under the Rug, a Zable on the Table… you get the idea), it’s not exactly as simple as “the cat sat on the mat”. Maybe not this one, I said doubtfully, trying to pretend I’d never mentioned it. Of course, that did it. They were hellbent on hearing about the Wocket.
I explained the concept of rhyming words first. This went down well, especially when we found some children in the class with rhyming names. Then I tackled the trickier notion of made-up words. But why aren’t they real words? But what do they mean? But what is a Wocket? Argh, argh, argh.
And yet, as soon as I combined the idea of rhyming words with the idea of made-up words, it somehow clicked with them, and they were delighted. Every day, I am becoming more and more enchanted by the humour and imagination of small children. Their appreciation of humour is unrestrained – they shriek and laugh and clap with pleasure when they find something funny. The sudden “ahhhhh!” when the penny drops and they understand a new concept is incredibly rewarding, and the look of dawning understanding followed by enthusiastic appreciation is fantastic to watch.
Together, we went through that famous Seuss house, with its Nupboards in the Cupboards, its Zillows on the Pillows, and its Quimney up the Chimney. Every new creature was greeted by a roar of laughter, excited questions – even a round of applause, in the case of the numerous Nellars, Dellars, Bellars and Zellars in the Cellar.
Three of the children clung to my legs, crying “More Wocket!”, as I tried to leave the room to get to my next class.
Thank you, Dr. Seuss.