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Marilyn Douglass offers preschoolers a ‘Kissing Hand’

Guest reader Marilyn Douglass kicks off the first "Reading with Friends for the 2015-16 school year this morning at Neighbor to Neighbor.
Guest reader Marilyn Douglass kicks off the first “Reading with Friends for the 2015-16 school year this morning at Neighbor to Neighbor.



The 30 preschoolers at this morning’s “Reading with Friends” storytime will remember the woman who read them a story.

“Dug-glass,” they will say, based on an introduction about digging a hole and pouring water into it. And it was clear from the very beginning of that introductory story that “guest reader” Marilyn Douglass has some experience engaging a young audience.

It also showed in the book she had asked to read, to kick off the storytelling sessions at Neighbor to Neighbor for the 2015-16 school year.

“The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn is a gentle tale about a young raccoon who would rather stay home with his mother than go to school. Douglass — who said she would also answer to “Grandma Marilyn” — capped the reading by offering to draw a heart in the hands of her young audience. They eagerly gathered around her for the bright pink reminder of the story.

Then the storytime ended and, like every session of “Reading with Friends,” the little chairs in the improvised “theater” were put away and the second floor of the downtown center reverted to a well appointed playroom. The 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds wasted no time making the transition.

Eventually the kids joined their parents, grandparents and caregivers downstairs, and they received snacks and a free copy of the book to take home.

This year’s “Reading with Friends” is funded by a grant from the Dane G. Hansen Fund, through the Community Foundation for Cloud County, and a gift from the Cloud County Attorney’s Diversion Fund, with continuing support from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, who operate Neighbor to Neighbor.

“Reading with Friends” is scheduled for the second Friday of each month  — Oct. 9, Nov. 13, Dec. 11, Jan. 8 (2016), Feb. 12, March 11, April 8 and May 13. For a schedule you can print out and save, CLICK HERE. There is a limit of 30 children per session so parents need to register for each session in advance by calling Neighbor to Neighbor at 785/262-4215 or emailing

Other books on this year’s docket include “Curious George,” “A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” “The Story of Ferdinand” and “A Snowy Day.”

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