I had the honor of being a judge today for a UIL Oral Recitation contest. What this means is, I got to listen to fourth and fifth graders read Shel Silverstein poems. There were other selections of course, but the majority were by Shel. One girl’s recitation of Cloony the Clown was so funny and spot-on, I had to keep from laughing while she read.
It was actually sort of a surreal experience, because in many ways I don’t see myself as a grown-up, but today I had to pretend to be one in front a roomful of children. I had to write critiques on what they read, and try to be truthful without Crushing Their Souls. Which really wasn’t that hard. It’s not exactly a complicated event, although when you’re good at it, you definitely stand out.
I do feel it was fitting to have the competition this week, since we’re still in Children’s Book Week. Nothing like
bloodthirsty the spirit of competition to encourage children to read. I am a little sad that the majority of the contestants were girls. I see reading as a “safe” pursuit for girls, and as too “girly” for most boys. Boys obviously don’t want to read eww yuck Poetry!
It was a good mix of races, though, which I was pleasantly surprised by. Two out of three of my top picks were girls of color, with really great poems that they recited well and confidently. I was so proud to listen to all the contestants, even the ones who were terrible. (And there were a few!)
Since really getting involved in the feminist, anti-racist, book blogging community, I’ve really begun to see things differently, and I think even a year or two ago I might not have made note of those things. I have another competition next weekend, and I hope to keep doing this and other related activities soon. It doesn’t pay much, but I had a lot of fun, and I enjoy working with kids a lot more than I thought I would. Who knew?? (Not me!)
I guess this will wrap up Children’s Book Week for me. Can’t wait to see how next week goes. Hopefully the kids remain as nice as they were today. (knock on wood)
You can also read about the last day of judging.