Family Reading Night

“Pets, Love, Books” was the theme at this year’s Family Reading Night, held Friday, March 1, at Washington Middle School.

More than 600 people gathered to celebrate the importance of reading together at the annual event, organized by The Missourian along with its partners the Washington School District and Washington Optimist Club.

Author/illustrator Lisa Papp traveled from eastern Pennsylvania to share her newest book, which was published that day. The book, “Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog,” tells the story of a reluctant reader who adopts a puppy and sets out to help her local animal shelter.

The book was a February Missourian Book Buzz Pick and was available in all school libraries before the author’s appearance.

Following Papp’s presentation, volunteers read books in 18 reading sessions including:

Haley Woll, Washington Town & Country Fair queen court; Marc Houseman, who appeared as Benjamin Franklin for the Franklin County Bicentennial Committee; Sheba and the Immanuel Lutheran comfort dog team; Washington High School cheerleaders; Dr. John Stoltz, veterinarian; Washington Fire Department; Franklin County Humane Society; East Central College cast members from “James and the Giant Peach”; teaching cadets from the Four Rivers Career Center Ed Rising Program;

St. Francis Borgia Regional High School softball team; WHS girls wrestling team; Dr. Marty Brunworth, dentist; Washington Middle School drama club; WHS varsity football team; American Sign Language interpreters; Parents as Teachers; SFBRHS Starry Knights dance team; Marcus Daily, the Hot Dog Man; WHS Navy Junior ROTC; WHS boys wrestling team; and Amy Brinkmann, Emerson Teaching award recipient.

Volunteers from seven elementary school parent teacher groups and two local organizations hosted craft tables based on books. Participating this year were Augusta Elementary, Campbellton Elementary, Clearview Elementary, Immanuel Lutheran Elementary, Labadie Elementary, Our Lady of Lourdes School and South Point Elementary.

The Stories Matter committee and Washington NEA also hosted tables.

Throughout the event, families were treated to popcorn and beverages donated for the 19th year by Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of New Haven.

After reading and crafts, the Washington Police Department provided a readers theater by acting out a book. The officers in uniform shared the story of the popular book character, “Pete the Cat.” The skit is an anticipated segue to the prize drawings at the conclusion of the three-hour event.

A record 66 baskets of books were donated by area educators, organizations, individuals and businesses. Children who listened to at least two stories at Family Reading Night were eligible to win a basket. A complete list of basket donors will be published soon in a thank you ad in The Missourian.

Families who read together for at least 15 minutes a day the week prior to the event — and brought their completed Family Reading Log to the event — were entered into a drawing for 16 gift certificates to Neighborhood Reads bookstore to add to their home libraries.

These gift certificates were donated by the WHS football team, Washington NEA and Marthasville PTC.

More than 100 volunteers help with the annual event.

Next year will be the 20th anniversary for Family Reading Night. Planning already is underway for the free community event, which will be held Friday, March 6. The planning committee for Family Reading Night includes Amy Steffens, Ann Joyce, Ann Loesing, Chris Stuckenschneider, Danielle Snider, Dawn Kitchell, Erin Gaebe, Jane Haberberger, Jennifer Wirthwein, Judy Straatmann, Julie Frankenberg, Michelle Prewitt, Nancy Sebastian, Penny Heisel, Rachael Eggert, Robyn Busekrus, Ruth McInnis and Valerie Jankowski.