In our part of the country, it doesn’t rain as often as I’d like. Early in our marriage my wife and I would travel to the southern coast of Georgia once a year to spend a week with her wonderful grandparents. It was a pristine world in which they lived, a coastal island protected by federal mandate and it seemed like another world to me. My favorite part of those weeks revolved around the weather. It could be hot and sunny in the morning and then rain for an hour in the afternoon and then humid straight through to twilight, when it would all dissolve into a cool, breezy evening of solitude in and around their little home. The weather there nearly always followed that plan throughout each day – sunny and hot, rain, humid, and finally cool and breezy.
It was that afternoon rain that has held a trance over me for more than twenty years now. As it would begin to fall, we would come inside for a late lunch and always a nap that would linger through the afternoon. At that point in my life I had not taken a nap since I was a child, but grandparents are so good at taking naps and they would insist on it – so we did.
Last Tuesday night it finally rained for a bit here at home. Dinner was over and the kitchen clean and everyone was busy with end-of-the-day kinds of things when our youngest realized that she had not yet completed her twenty-minute-every-night required book reading for school. She was disappointed because she really just wanted to swing in the rain.
“Wouldn’t that be fun?” she said.
But the dilemma remained – she had to read for 20 minutes and the evening was quickly fading.
“How about you read while you swing?” I suggested.
It worked. We were outside in a minute, each with our own books, and our youngest in her own personal paradise. And then it happened, a roll of thunder and the rain began. The swing is under a large tree so it worked something like an umbrella as she read. When the drops grew large enough to penetrate the leafy canopy above her, she simply looped her zebra umbrella around the ropes above the swing and kept right on reading.
Great teachers of young children will tell you that when they encounter a student who does not like to read, it is often more a matter of what they are reading and where they are reading rather than that they don’t actually like to read. Talking with them about their interests and giving them freedom to find an adventurous place to read can really help them become readers.
Whether in a special corner in the playroom, on the porch, under the kitchen table, in bed, under the bed, or a million other places – reading somewhere you wouldn’t normally think to read can be a lot of fun…and sitting on a swing under a big old tree in the rain is not a bad place to give it a try.