A generation of Mansfield children has grown up reading with Miss Annette during story time at the Mansfield Public Library. Now, it’s time for Annette Weber to read stories to the next generation of her own family. Weber, 67, will retire in August after a dozen years as youth services librarian with plans to spend time with her grandchild.Singing, dancing, blowing bubbles and reading hundreds of books, Weber does whatever it takes to pass on her love of reading to the tiny tots who gather for the library’s story time. Some aren’t even old enough to hold a book, much less read one, but their parents say they are still engaged and learning, thanks to Weber’s lively presentations.“Kids learn when they’re physically involved,” Weber said. “You can teach all kinds of concepts through music and they remember it.”Lugging diaper bags, sippy cups, raisins and Cheerios, as many as 80 parents, grandparents, nannies and toddlers pack the twice-a-week story times to do the hokey pokey, sing their ABC’s, stomp their feet and learn their colors through singing, reading and dancing.“She does such a great job,” Troy Spencer said of Weber, as he kept an eye on his 20-month-old daughter Gracyn. “We’re going to miss her. Even when (Gracyn) was 8 months old, she would go home and do the songs.”Doris Jaynes’ granddaughter, Maggie Chappell, has learned other skills, too.“She used to be kind of shy around other children,” Jaynes said of the 14-month-old. “She has learned so much since she started coming here through repetition.”But Weber knew that. She taught elementary school for eight years before becoming a librarian at Arlington’s Ditto Elementary for 22 years.“I love books,” she said. “When I became a teacher I started re-reading all the books I loved as a child.” And sharing the love of reading with children is one of her favorite things.“When you read to little ones, they melt into you,” Weber said. “You’re almost one person. You feel that relaxation.”Weber is ready to share that with her own grandson, 18-month-old Lincoln.“That child loves books,” she said. “I was trying to make French toast and he kept handing me a book. We had breakfast late.”Lincoln lives with his parents in San Marcos and Weber has been burning up the road to spend time with him. After her husband of 33 years, Rick, retired, they sold their Arlington home and plan to travel in their RV after Weber retires in mid-August and then settle near their children in central Texas.“She had been talking about (retiring) for awhile, but I would always say ‘No, you’re not,’” said City Librarian Steve Standefer. “We’re sorry to lose her, but very happy for her.”Standefer said Weber’s contribution to the library has been “huge,” including being assistant city librarian and liason to the Friends of the Mansfield Public Library.“She’s put us on the map as far as youth services,” he said. “She walked in with ideas and a plan. She’s been my right hand in a lot of things.”Standefer hopes to have Weber’s replacement in place before she leaves so she can show them the ropes, he said.Although she’s retiring, Weber won’t be far from a library. In addition to reading to her grandson, she has a stack of books on her bedside table waiting.“I’ll probably volunteer at a library somewhere,” she said.
Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451 Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM