Wyo Sal: Reading Between the Lines

Posted May 18, 2017 by Wyo Sal - 6 comments

My earliest reading memories are of a tall, skinny cardboard book called “Sally Ann the Cow.” It’s spine was mangled and it came with its own cardboard box. I had that book until very recently, and for reasons too tragic to mention, now I have it no longer.

That was followed by the blue Dick and Jane books from elementary school.

And then there was the covert stealing of “The Godfather” from under the Christmas tree when I was in junior high.

So reading is a part of me, as much as prayer and brushing my teeth.

In Wyoming, we are blessed with the Wyoming Reads program that banker John Jorgensen started in memory of his late wife, Sue, a career educator and literacy fan.

Each first grader in Wyoming is given a hardback book with his or her own name on a bookplate. Children who have access to a local library but no library card are also given their own library cards.

In Casper, a festival occurs to give the children their books. They watch a play performed by high school theater students, and “celebrity” readers are part of the fun.

For several years, I have been blessed to read.

Note: I am old.

good night baddiesSo it is that I found myself with a pile of first graders sitting at my feet in a semi-circle this week. The first book I read was a rhyming wonder called Good Night, Baddies, by Deborah Underwood. It’s a great goulash of a book, mentioning trolls and gnomes and witches, goats gruff, Little Red Riding Hood and Rumpelstiltskin.

Mostly, it’s about how these people are bad during the day, but at night, they put on their pajamas and brush their teeth and are read to in bed just like you and me.

I must get it for the Girls immediately.

So while I was reading to these rapt-faced little humans, their two teachers were — wait for it — scrolling on their phones the ENTIRE time.

Note: I am old.

I still find cell phones at work meetings off-putting, but it is now the norm.

I use my phone when I want to talk to someone, or more recently, when the daughter was on “any minute” notice for two weeks prior to A’s arrival.

So, why, I wondered were these two very young teachers on their phones?

read at storytimeDid they not care that one of their students was over-the-moon thrilled to have her own library card?

Or that a precocious little girl went ahead and read aloud while the “celebrity” was reading?

Or that the review of the play they had watched included this classic line, “The Grinch had a big lip ring.”

I am thrilled that the children have a new book.

I am thrilled that they will have something new to read at bed time after tooth brushing and pajama-getting.

I am thrilled that maybe for a few of them, that day will be the start of a lifelong passion for books.

I only wish their teachers shared their excitement.

Wyo Sal Bio picWyo Sal is a Catholic mom and grandma and works full-time at a job that still usually overwhelms her. She loves football and food and books. She hopes to win the lottery some day.

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6 thoughts on "Wyo Sal: Reading Between the Lines"

  1. Pa says:

    Note: I am old.

    On a recent trip with a group of college students, an infrastructure failure caused their phones to be inoperable. So we sat around and talked and told stories. When things came back on the students were amazed that over three hours had passed without their noticing. What a revelation!

    We need to cut our electronic tethers more often, or we will miss so very much of real life.

    1. WyoSal says:


  2. Bennie says:

    Living in a small city (Stamford, CT) I’m amazed at how many people walk and just stare down at their devices. 1. the sidewalks are not even, tripping can occur when not paying attention. 2. We’ve had kids on bikes literally speed by and swipe devices from peoples’ hands, gone in a flash. 3. We should all be aware of our surroundings be it someone shady looking or a car about to careen into us as we walk through an intersection. Mostly though I agree, people miss the little things in life. I get a kick seeing a robin hop around or just people watching. It will be there loss though.

    1. WyoSal says:


  3. Jenn B says:

    That makes me sad because it is my favorite day of the work year. As a youth librarian at NCL, I love watching the kids, year after year. This year I had a 1st grader and was there as mom and classroom helper rather than librarian. I did have my phone out but only to try to capture a few quick moments and quickly tucked it back away… I love watching the kids read along, wearing their magic reading glasses.. listening to John’s fairy tale.

    Thanks Sal for being a reader and helping spread the magic.

    1. WyoSal says:

      My pleasure. Reading is my favorite sport, activity and hobby all rolled into one. I’m sure the teachers are excellent and enjoyed 20 minutes without having to be “on.” Here’s to a summer full of reading for all of us!

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