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Reading is its own reward, but the stars are nice too

The back wall of the Dakota County Farmington Library has the look of a well-populated aquarium these days. There are snails and starfish, sharks and sea horses. And each of the brightly-colored construction-paper sea creatures represents a child participating in the library's annual Winter Read-to-Me Club.

If past clubs are any guide, the wall will only get more crowded.

The club has been around for 25 years, and it's proved popular with kids and their parents. Last year, 305 kids signed up to have books read to them by parents or other family members. For every library book read to them, the kids get a gold star to stick to their shape.

Children's librarian Cathy Maguire said some kids end up with 100 or more stars.

"Kids are excited when they come in to see their name up on the board and they're excited to get stars to put up there," Maguire said.

At the end of the club, which this year runs through Feb. 27, kids get to take home their shape. But the benefits of the program go well beyond having something to stick up on the refrigerator. Maguire said kids who are read to from an early age tend to have larger vocabularies and better language skills. And they get to spend more time with their parents. That one-on-one time is always good, Maguire said.

"One of the greatest gifts you can give a child is to read a book to them," Maguire said. "It's helping kids get ready to read long before they start school. It's helping them learn important pre-reading skills, too."

Maguire said she's had high school students come in to the library and tell her they still have the shapes they put on the wall when they were young.

This year's Winter Read-to-Me Club started Jan. 4. There will be a summer session as well.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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