The Hall of Hugs

This past fall I started volunteering regularly in my daughter’s elementary school. A couple days a week I reshelve library books and work with groups of three or four second graders doing language arts activities. I’m paid in hugs–and I’ve become a very rich woman.

Reshelving books is intriguing because I get a glimpse of what the kids are into reading. Let me tell you: the youngest are really into dinosaur nonfiction. Mo Willems books are another big favorite among the kindergarten set.

Martial arts books seem to be pretty popular among the older elementary kids. I find it strangely touching that a child who’s interested in martial arts would check out a book on the topic when countless YouTube karate videos are just a click away. It gives me hope for the future of good, old books.

After the library I head down the hall to meet with a small group. I look forward to seeing whoever is in the group that day because they are all so special. Really. I know how cheesy that sounds–the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way–but it’s true. Some are stinkers, sure, but each one is precious.

We do our activity on synonyms or prefixes or finding a paragraph’s main idea, then my time is up. The best part comes next: as I leave I see my daughter in the hallway and give her a quick squeeze. She looks a little sheepish about hugging Mom right there in the hallway. Even so, this sets off a chain reaction of hugs. I get hugs from other kids in her class, hugs from my small-group friends, even hugs from sweet little ones who don’t know me but just feel like giving hugs.

Now, I’m not a big hugger, but I find this totally endearing. As I make my way down the hall of hugs, I’m grateful for the chance to volunteer in a great place. The pay is pretty sweet, too.


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