County Agent Guy
Studies have shown that boosting literacy levels increases living standards. Your library card doesn’t just open the door to a building full of books; it opens the doors to the entire universe.
It’s imperative to introduce children to reading as early as possible. Most toddlers are primarily interested in how books taste, so it’s a parent’s duty to read to their tykes.
My wife and I began reading to our two sons when their only discernable skills involved drooling. They eventually graduated from gnawing on the books we gave them to consuming reading material in the way it was intended.
We encouraged our sons to read and acquainted them with the joys of acquiring knowledge. This has worked out pretty well. Our eldest son is a corporate IT manager and our youngest son is a senior project controls analyst at a global construction firm. Not bad for a couple of kids who grew up on a South Dakota dairy farm.
When our sons were youngsters, the most popular literary activity at our house was being read to at bedtime. I chose highbrow fodder that included such things as “Calvin and Hobbes” comics or “Real Ponies Don’t Go ‘Oink!'” by Patrick McManus. The problem was that the boys would be more giggly than drowsy at the end of the reading.
I cut my literary teeth on the “Fun with Dick and Jane” series, books that portrayed prosaic tales about a nuclear family at the dawn of the Nuclear Age. The stories were so boring that they nearly put me to sleep. This illustrates how poor my judgment was when, as a father, I selected such rousing bedtime reading material.
An engaging children’s book should contain a measure of excitement. For example, one could pen a kiddie book about our adventurous cat, Sparkles:
Sparkles stared at the tuft of grass. She was crouching on her tummy and holding her breath.
There was a tiny rustle in the grass. Fast as lightning, Sparkles jumped into the grass! She looked under her front paws. Nothing. The mouse had gotten away. But Sparkles didn’t care. Hunting mice and birds was Sparkles’ favorite thing to do.
Sparkles looked around at her kingdom. Everything she saw belonged to her: the barn, the chicken coop, the granary, the farmhouse, the nearby grove of trees. Sparkles even lets a middle-aged man and lady live in the farmhouse. She is an uncommonly kind cat.
Sparkles stretched in the warm sun and began to clean herself with her pink tongue. Sparkles is a pretty cat. She works hard at keeping herself tidy. Taking a bath is one of her favorite things to do.
Four big brown steers live in the barn. Sparkles began to walk across the cow yard and the steers trotted out to see her. They tried to sniff her with their wet noses. Sparkles doesn’t like this because it ruins her hairdo. She ran under the fence where the steers couldn’t reach her.
Sparkles decided that she needed a nap. She has lots of secret places on the farm where she can hide and sleep. Taking a nap is one of Sparkles’ favorite things to do.
A shaggy dog named Sandy also lives on the farm. Sandy is always happy. He and Sparkles are friends. They often go for walks with the man who lives in the house. Sometimes, Sparkles will zip up behind Sandy, tap him on his hind leg and run away. Sandy just smiles at Sparkles. He doesn’t know that they are playing tag. Sparkles likes Sandy even though he’s a bit dopey.
Other animals sometimes visit Sparkles’ farm. One night, Sparkles was in the chicken coop when a large black cat walked in. Sparkles was curious about him until she saw his white stripes. A skunk! Sparkles scurried up a tree and watched from a high branch until the skunk went away.
Sparkles is a barn cat unless it’s cold or rainy or if the wind is messing up her hairdo. She will sit at the farmhouse door and cry “Meow! Meow!” until the man or the lady lets her in.
Sparkles will walk in circles around the man or the lady’s ankles, saying “Meow, meow!” This is cat-talk for “Thank you!”
The man and the lady will sometimes say “Meow, meow!” back to Sparkles. They are awful at cat-talk, but Sparkles appreciates the effort.
When one of the humans sits in their big chairs, Sparkles will hop onto their lap and let the human pet her. Sparkles will purr and purr and soon falls asleep.
“This,” Sparkles thinks to herself, “Is my very favorite thing to do.”
Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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