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Talking It Over: Reading for fun and education

This is a great time of the year for reading. In my opinion any time of year is good for reading but fall and winter just seem to be better for curling up in a comfy chair and reading a good book.

In the fall, when students are going back to school, it is also a good time to appreciate the people who taught you to read. The teachers, parents and volunteers who spent hours helping you sound out words, memorize phonetics and listen as you struggled through those first books. I have many people I could thank for this but one particular teacher stands out in my mind.

Mrs. Magnus Johnson was my 6th grade teacher but I also had her for a brief time in kindergarten and in first grade.

She was originally a country school teacher who transferred into the public school system where she taught a couple different grade levels before finishing her career teaching 6th grade.

What I remember most about having Mrs. Johnson for a teacher was story time. At the end of each school day we had about 30 minutes when she would read to us. The books she read were wonderfully entertaining and kept us wanting more.

I recall her reading the entire Little House on the Prairie series, one chapter at a time, along with many other fascinating tales. As a class we sat mesmerized as she read about a life we could only imagine.

I think this was what prompted me to read more. I anxiously awaited our weekly visits to the school library and also made good use of our church library. Occasionally we even stopped at the public library and I was lost in the thrill of finding a good book. I spent many evenings curled up with those books in quiet corners of the house.

Reading is such an important part of our lives. Nearly everything you do requires some type of reading and being able to enjoy it just makes reading better.

The best part of reading is that it gets better with practice. The more you read, the better you get at it and consequently the more you enjoy it. Naturally selecting the reading material that is most interesting to you is also important.

Along with this it is equally important to help others learn to read. Reading to your children and grandchildren encourages them to become interested in books and strive to learn to read for themselves. Giving a book or magazine or newspaper subscription as a gift also encourages reading.

Even if a person starts out just reading short articles or thin paperbacks, the love to read can grow from there.

This fall and winter, take the time to read and read to someone you care about. If you have the opportunity, thank the people who helped you learn to read. Life could be very difficult if they had not taken the time to teach you, read to you and encourage your efforts.