A chilly breeze, a warm fire, the chance of snow (or cold rain if you live in Alabama), loved ones all around, and a good book make for a wonderful winter night. It is the time of year where the list of to-dos can be pushed aside, in favor of spending time with family and reading those well-known stories that have shaped many childhood memories year after year. Not only is it the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ to recite these stories, reading to young children has many benefits.  

Research backs this up. According to the National Education Association, 26 percent of kids who were read to 3-4 times weekly recognize the letters of the alphabet. Among kids read to less frequently, that number drops to 14 percent. 

Gwen Pascal, a Children’s Librarian at the Tuscaloosa Public Library is passionate about reading to children and encouraging them to read. Over the years, she has compiled a list of some of her favorite holiday stories. 

Olive, the Other Reindeer is one of my favorites,” said Pascal. “He’s a dog who’s wrapping gifts, listening to Christmas music, and trimming the tree, and he hears the line ‘all of the other reindeer,’ and thinks, ‘oh, I’m a reindeer.’” 

Pascal enjoys reading to children that come to weekly story times at the library every Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. Anyone who walks into Pascal’s office can see the impact she has on the children who visit the library, as her desk is decorated with cards from children she has read to ever since infancy. 

“I’ve been doing this for 16 years. I have kids that came in when they’re young, and now they’re graduating high school and going off to college,” she said.

Services offered at the Tuscaloosa Public Library give local children many opportunities to read classic holiday stories. A children’s book table highlights a variety of seasonal books to choose from at Main library. If you want to check out some Christmas and holiday books, head to the library quickly – they are popular choices this time of year.  

Reading to your children is a wonderful family activity. If you'd like to encourage your children to read more, here are some tips.

In the past two years, The Friends of the Library has contributed more than $88,000 to the Tuscaloosa Public Library. Operated by a volunteer staff that only accepts cash or checks, The Friends of the Library store remains a bookworm’s dream.

“The dedicated volunteers who run the bookstore help to promote the library in the community and within local organizations,” said Vince Bellofatto, the library’s director of public relations and marketing. “The FOL bookstore is a draw for the Main library. Customers who visit the bookstore also take a trip to the library to check out materials. This is just a wonderful partnership.”

I’ve mentioned before my love of all things movies and music, but let’s add books to the list, shall we? I just got a new Kindle and I’ve blown through a LOT of great books in recent weeks. And I’m no snob about what I read – give me a great "chick-lit" book any day and I’ll be happy. I also read biographies and smarty books, but this time of year, I’m in the mood for an easy read that’s engaging and fun and will keep me entertained as I sit on a beach or by a pool relaxing. It's all about decompressing, and escaping into another world for a little bit. I thought I'd share some finds, so hopefully one of these will suit your fancy.

The Tuscaloosa Public Library’s summer reading program, “On Your Mark, Get Set…Read!” kicked off on May 31. For parents looking for something fun for the kids to do while they’re out of school, TPL’s reading program offers plenty to keep the children entertained and busy. And best of all? All of the programs are free.

“Summer Reading is TPL’s football season. We see a lot of patrons and have a lot of great programs. This is a great time of year for the Tuscaloosa Public Library,” said Vince Bellofatto, director of communications and public relations.

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.


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