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Hastings Reads kicks off soon

The dogs will take center stage this year, including one from a Hastings apple orchard, when Hastings Reads 2013 is celebrated.

The theme of the annual observance is "It's a Dog's Life," and the book selections for elementary age to older readers center on the dogs.

Hastings Reads is planned and sponsored by the United Way of Hastings, Dakota County Pleasant Hill Library, Friends of the Library, AAUW, OASIS, Hastings public schools, the Ruth and George Doffing Charitable Gift Foundation, the Hastings Public Schools Foundation, and Hastings Community Television. It is a community-wide reading program that encourages reading and discussion of topics that help us to understand the lives and experiences of ourselves and others.

The book selections include "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein. This is the adult and teen selection.

"The Art of Racing in the Rain: My Life as Dog," by Garth Stein is for middle grades and is an adaptation of "The Art of Racing in the Rain."

Stein will be the gust author Feb. 26 at the Hastings Middle School. He will also have a community presentation at 6:30 p.m.

The elementary book selection is "On the Road" by Lucy Nolan.

The preschool and elementary selection is a book by Hastings author Charlie Johnson's called "Emmy of Whistling Well Farm." This is the story of Emmy, the Springer Spaniel dog who greets everyone to Whistling Well apple orchard just north of Hastings in Denmark Township. This is the book Charlie and Carol Johnson planned to write for years, but their careers and the apple orchard changed that. After Carol died several years ago, Charlie still had the dream to write the book, and he did. It was published this past fall.

Emmy will make a guest appearance later this month at Pleasant Hill Library. A preschool event, "It's a Dog's Life," will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26, at the Tilden Community Center. The event is for children ages 3 to 5 and their parents. The cost is $10. If interested, register at Hastings Community Education.

A free story time, "D is for Dogs," will be held from 11 a.m. to noon, Friday, Feb. 1, at Pleasant Hill Library. Registration can be completed at the library.

The official kick-off for Hastings Reads 2013 will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Pleasant Hill Library.

Hastings Huskies, a local dog sled team, will be present. Charlie Johnson and Emmy will visit with the children and parents and other residents at 11:30 a.m. The movie, "Snow Dogs," will be shown at 12:30 p.m.