Marion High School senior JayDee Schafers briefly thought about herself as a first grader when preparing to read to Staci Hansen’s first grade class at Marion Elementary School.
She knew it would have meant a lot to her if the high schooler would have interacted with her class and tried to bring a simple children’s story alive by using a variety of voices for the characters.
“My inner child is strong,” she said.
Schafers took the assignment of reading to elementary students for National Young Readers Week seriously and it showed.
The interest of the class grew as she read further into “I Need My Monster” by Amanda Noll. As the young protagonist Ethan is visited by several substitute monsters — none of which can properly fill the shoes of his regular monster Gabe, who was out fishing — Schafers tapped into her forensics experience to enliven the story.
The first monster was a flowery-tongued English gentleman befitting his mustachioed illustration. A couple monsters later, Ethan is visited by a female monster Schafers portrayed as a snooty valley girl. A physical feature of the next monster was a grotesquely long tongue. Schafers used a lisp making it seem as though she was trying to speak with her mouth full. Finally, Gabe, Ethan’s normal monster, was amplified with a sneering delivery.
“I tried to make it fun for them,” Schafers said.
Mission accomplished. After turning the final page of the story, Schafers asked the class if they had any monsters around. One girl said she had a monster named Bob who lived under her bed. Not to be out done, another first grader responded that her monster’s name was Chuca.
It was silly excersise designed for fun, but that type of creativity may inspire those students to visit their MES haunts a decade later as high school students.