I still remember every kid I read to over the years, and wonder where they are now. Sometimes it was tough to tear myself away from work for that half hour that was dedicated to SMART, but at the end of that half hour, I never failed to leave without a huge smile plastered on my face. Each and every one of those kids has a different story, a different reason for needing the SMART program, but they all benefit immensely from the program itself. To see their confidence in reading grow, is an amazing thing to behold. They begin the year a bit apprehensive when you pick them up at their classroom…very shy, and hesitant to open themselves up to mistakes. But then the magic happens. They start to become more vocal, wanting to read more challenging books, growing the list of words they know by sight, less hesitant to sound out words and more comfortable with making mistakes as they learn. By the end of the year, they’re bounding out of their classrooms when you show up, because they can hardly wait to read. They treasure the books they’re given by SMART and can hardly wait to show their parents. And to know that you’re helping them open up and entire world of literature that helps keep their imagination healthy, taking them to worlds that seemed out of reach… it’s a truly wonderful feeling. Sometimes reading becomes these kids’ only solace in their worlds. They feel great about themselves, and carry themselves with more confidence and joy. It’s a beautiful thing to watch unfold, and to know you helped them get there is priceless.