'This Thing Called Kindergarten'

Crystal Pugsley of the Plainsman
Posted 11/18/23

Huron resident Dolly Venables puts together book

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'This Thing Called Kindergarten'


When it’s time for little blonde-haired, blue-eyed Annie to go to kindergarten on that first day of school, she makes a momentous decision — she doesn’t want to go.

“This Thing Called Kindergarten,” a children’s book written by Dolly Venables of Huron, takes readers into the classroom, where Annie discovers a whole new world of fun, fantasy and friendship. The book, which is being published by Landon Hail Press, will be available for purchase through Amazon starting Dec. 13.

The book is dedicated to the late Diane Swisher, who Venables worked with for several years in the kindergarten class at Washington School.

“I was a para-educator with Diane, she was a kindergarten teacher and I was just fortunate enough to work with her,” said Venables. “I think I wrote it in 1999, I was still working in the Washington School library.

“I retired in June 2022, and finally contacted a publisher in May, that’s how this journey that I’m on now started,” she said.

Like many children who are just starting kindergarten, little Annie has a lot of misgivings.

“Annie is quite content staying home with her mama, where she is safe and secure and a tiny bit spoiled by the most important woman in her life,” Venables said. “After gentle encouragement, she goes to kindergarten and realizes she is going to enjoy this thing called kindergarten very much.

“My hook line, so to speak, is that Annie discovers change can be a good thing if you’re willing to take chances and embrace opportunities,” she said. “This book is for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Whether you’re young or older, doing something for the first time can be frightening, not knowing what to expect. That’s when we rely on those around us, friends, family, loved ones and teachers.”

Venables, a Black Hills native, moved to Huron, where her husband Gary grew up, in 1979. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren.

The book’s illustrator is Stephen Riggins, a man who worked with her daughter, Chelsea.

“She said, Mom, I know someone who might work for you,’” Venables said. “I checked out some of his illustrations online and I knew we could make it work. I did send him the manuscript and he took the ball and ran with it.”

Check out her website, www.dollyvenables.com, to order the book and to receive a copy of Venables’ “Positivity Poem.”

“My hope for this is that each and every little person starting kindergarten will know how smart, strong and capable of success they are,” Venables said. “I’m very excited.”