Kids Make My Day

It was another one of those Book Talks that I looked forward to. This time it was in the heart of Manila.

About 200 kids—ages four to six—were herded inside a big room by over a dozen teachers.  Very well behaved, I thought.  Not one of the teachers had to shush them up. They sat quietly and looked at me like I had ten heads or was a fairy godmother, or both.

A seasoned storyteller was to read to them “Tree for All,” then I would take over with a few words about how and why I wrote the story.

But the unexpected happened.

The storyteller sent a text message that she was caught in traffic somewhere still far away. So we began with my spiel on my books, with images on the screen. The kids were still unusually behaved.

When I started asking questions, however, pandemonium broke loose.

Every hand went up the air, and all 200 of the kids wanted to talk at the same time. I mimicked a whistle sound on the mike and they piped down a bit, and totally after I said I'd tell them a story.

I am not a professional storyteller and my only thespian ability comes from a long-ago stint with the theater in graduate school as a directing major, but push came to shove, and I had to deliver. Fortunately, even the most inept storytelling seemed to sound like a magnum opus with an audience like that. They gave the perfect facial and aural expressions that made one hallucinate she was a rock star.  

I was told not to end the story—instead, I was to ask them questions on how they thought the story ended. Every answer would get a free book.

There were more volunteers than we had free books! And their answers—they were so startlingly creative an author can only ask herself, Why didn't I think of that?

That day made me a storyteller extraordinaire (only in their eyes) and made me realize once again that only kids can deliver God's grace beyond one's imagination.

The storyteller arrived when the kids were being lined up to go back to their classrooms.


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