I got to thinking about the best gift I’ve ever received, and I would have to put the gift of reading right up there at the top. As it happened, my one-year-older brother came home from school with his first Dick and Jane reader, and proudly displayed his newly acquired reading talents for my parents. To put it mildly, I was jealous.

I begged my Mom, “Teach me to read!” Empowered by her teaching degree and a word chart she attached to the handle of the refrigerator, my mother showed me how. It’s a skill I have put to good use for 60 years.

I would suggest that everybody can give the gift of reading. It’s not just teaching someone to read, but it can be reading stories to a small child, reading a book or selections from books to a parent or grandparent or neighbor, and more.

What grandparent or neighbor wouldn’t be delighted with a reading presented by a child:  a story read by a grade school student, a “first reader” read by a beginning reader, an original essay read by a high school student.  Make the event special with invitations and photos and treats to mark the occasion.

Children’s librarians at Washington County Library are promoting the five practices that are important first steps in teaching children to read: talk together, sing together, read together, write together, play together. And they are not just for parents! So if you have a little person in your life, any time is the right time to pump a child up with a pre-reading activity.

Starting 7 p.m. Thursday, November 29 at Hardwood Creek Library in Forest Lake and continuing around the County every Thursday during the month of December, guest story reader Timothy Claussen will be treating adults to short stories by Minnesota authors. Rediscover the joy of listening to great stories read aloud! Check the Library’s Events Calendar for a storytime near you – “Holiday Storytime for Grownups”.

The winter holidays sometimes evolve into a buying frenzy, but remember you can borrow books for free from the library and share them with the folks around you. You are not only sharing words and stories, but you are giving your time and attention, as well.

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us