Let’s start today with Tina the tiny horse. Well, perhaps not tiny. But small, and injured when kicked by another horse shortly after being born. Not viewed as very promising as a youngster. (some of us can relate to that). But, through the intervention of Karin Winegar, a wise woman who saw promise, Tina and the St Paul Police met each other.
This became a great combination. There was the time that Tina and her mounted policeman chased and caught a robber. Other times they helped calm folks at festivals who had too much to drink.
Dogs, horses, cats and kids – those can be great together. How about if you throw in heart-warming books and reading? As we approach winter vacation, I hope families will consider bringing this winning combination together. Two instantly engaging, wonderful books, one of them brand new, give families a great opportunity to do this.
Karin Winegar, an award winning author who has written for various newspapers including The New York Times, the Star Tribune and the LA Times, has a terrific new children’s book, Tina of Grand Avenue. It has many pictures, and an inspiring story. Officer Mark Lundquist of the St. Paul Police, who rode Tina told me, “People would always come to pet my horse and ask me questions about my job. I have never, in 25 years of law enforcement had anyone come up and pet my squad car. It is invaluable in relationship building between the city and community.” He describes the book is “a great story of a horse and human who had developed a strong bond.” I agree. It’s available from amazon.com or at Winegar’s website, www.karinwinegar.com
Mark took the picture of Tina and Winegar that is part of this story. Winegar has done another book that is a great gift to families, SAVED: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform. This has 28 true stories, featuring people of different races, whose lives became far happier when an animal joined them. You can read any of these stories in 10-15 minutes, making them perfect for busy families.
* There’s Lori and her horses for the handicapped
* There’s Elton, who survived Hurricane Katrina with his dog Pewee
* There’s Beverly, with dementia, who still responds to Duke, her husband’s dog
* There’s Joe, who houses rescued kittens
Reading with/to kids has enormous value. A research summary published in Science Daily helped explained this: “Young children whose parents read aloud to them have better language and literacy skills when they go to school. Children who have been read aloud to are also more likely to develop a love of reading, which can be even more important than the head start in language and literacy.”
Moreover, “A Child Becomes a Reader,” a report for the federal National Institute for Literacy, pointed out, “… researchers have told us something very important. Learning to read and write can start at home, long before children go to school. Children can start down the road to becoming readers from the day they are born.”
A report by professor Donald J. Hernandez of Hunter College and City University of New York that studied almost 4,000 people, found that students who are not reading well by the end of third grade are four times as likely to drop out of high school, as those who do read well by then. More info here: www.aecf.org/Newsroom/NewsReleases/HTML/2011Releases/DoubleJeopardy.aspx
Back to Winegar’s books: Whether it’s Tina’s story, or one of the 28 accounts in Saved, Winegar has given families the opportunity to spend time together, laughing, crying and developing marvelous memories.
Joe Nathan loves reading with and to his three children. Formerly a public school teacher and administrator, he now directs the Center for School Change. Reactions welcome, firstname.lastname@example.org