Twice in the last few months I have volunteered to be the Secret Reader for my daughter’s class: a mystery parent who shows up at 3pm on Friday to read a story to the class. Both times I found being Secret Reader a real treat, a lot of fun to sit down in front of 25 five- and six-year-olds and read some of my favourite books for children.
But I was surprised to find I was actually really nervous to be Secret Reader! I do my Viva Survivor session over fifty times per year, and the first time I was Secret Reader I had done Viva Survivor twice that week, but perhaps the novelty of the occasion and the very different audience made it a bit uncomfortable. I still get a little nervous before Viva Survivor, but nothing like how I felt about being Secret Reader. As with Viva Survivor, it’s important. I wanted it to go well, so my brain and body were a little anxious about it. There were so many things I didn’t know.
I didn’t know if they knew the book I was reading. I didn’t know what they were expecting. I didn’t know if they would like the story. I didn’t know if they would like me!
It felt like a bizarro-universe viva.
25 little examiners peering at me while I tried to give a good account of myself. Little eyes and ears looking and listening while I did funny voices, emphasised silly words and tried to impress upon them that this story was important. And once I got past my nerves, it was an absolute joy to do.
You are the Not-So-Secret Reader for your viva. Your examiners know who is coming, they know what you’re reading and they know that you wrote it! They may not know everything that you know, but they know (or believe) that you know it, and they want to ask you all about it. You can be nervous, and probably will be, because – like being Secret Reader – it matters.
It’s worth doing well.