Ashley LodatoBy Ashley Lodato

January is Reading in the Family Month and the public elementary school is acknowledging this theme in a variety of ways, including continuing the “Drop Everything and Read” (DEAR) Thursdays, where all students and teachers simultaneously stop what they’re doing and read silently for 15 minutes.

Walking through the halls while DEAR is happening is a pretty inspiring experience. The atmosphere is hushed, but the buzz of little brains fully engrossed in stories is almost palpable.

Reading in the Family Month includes several other activities, such as reading Bingo and a poster project, but one of the most popular events is the annual Book Swap, where students get to select books to keep from a supply of donated reading material. This is where the community comes in, because it’s time to start collecting donations of books that are appropriate for kindergarten through sixth graders. Older reading level books (for fifth and sixth graders in particular) are generally in higher demand and harder to come by, so if you’ve finished some good, youth-appropriate novels or non-fiction lately, please consider saving them for the elementary school Book Swap.

Zest for poetry reading still remains strong in the schools, and following on the heels of Liberty Bell’s much-applauded Poetry Out Loud competition last month, students at the elementary school are forming a Poetry Out Loud (POL) group of their own. Pieces from the youth POL session will be performed at Methow Valley Elementary School during the book fair on the evening of Jan. 30.

Other reading material of note lately comes in the form of a Patagonia catalog essay about an unnamed awesome little place where the economy is thriving due to local efforts. Although the Methow Valley isn’t specifically named, it’s patently clear to any locals reading it that the essay addresses our little valley (and details such as a reference to the Good Neighbor Handbook and a coffee roaster next to the recycling center give it away).

This is obviously not the first time the Methow has been covered in print and digital media, nor will it be the last. But for some reason it’s more of a thrill to read about your home appearing incognito as opposed to being placed prominently on the cover of a travel or lifestyle magazine, although I suppose the hotels and chambers of commerce might feel differently.