Had I realized I would be explaining the inner workings of a hovercraft to a classroom of adorable first-graders at Gussner Elementary School here in Jamestown, I would have prepared a little bit more.
As it was, I did the best I could to answer all the questions they had, both before I started reading to them and after I had finished.
I have one of my colleagues to thank, or possibly blame — he told me about the Master Reader program here, in which community members visit elementary schools and read to children. Before you read the book selected for you and your class, you tell them your name, and a little bit about what you do.
My colleague usually talks about all the famous people he’s met. I go a different route and tell them all the cool things I’ve gotten to do as a reporter. I’ve had my nails done. I’ve ridden on a hovercraft. I’ve been in the nose of a World War II-era bomber. And I’ve even been (accidentally) shot at (by a ricochet at a gun tournament, and the bullet landed about 5 feet away from me).
In this case, they had all sorts of questions about the hovercraft, some of which I could answer and others of which I had to admit I didn’t know. I told them about how hovercrafts work–the fan and the noise, and how you can go on water, land or ice with a hovercraft.
After I read them a Little Red Riding Hood story that featured a tiger instead of a wolf, they had quite a few comments on that, too. One kid told me he’d hide a knife so that when the tiger swallowed him he’d be able to cut his way out. I tried to tactfully point out that normally tigers chew when they eat, and that maybe this was a magical tiger, and that’s why the little girl in the story was still okay after she’d been eaten by the tiger.
In retrospect, I should have told them that they would make good reporters. They sure did ask a lot of good questions!