3rd-graders get Christmas gifts of very special books to take home

December 16, 1993|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

The bright eyes of third-grade students at Eutaw Marshburn Elementary in Bolton Hill widened as they focused on the early Christmas presents -- gift-wrapped books suited to individual tastes.

The Baltimore chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) gave the books to pupils in Ernestine Wainwright's class for the fourth straight year in the organization's effort to encourage city children to read.

Each year, Mrs. Wainwright's pupils write letters to the AAUW, telling what subjects they enjoy. AAUW members then are matched with children, and each participating member picks a book on a subject close to the assigned child's interests.

Students then write thank-you letters to their benefactors.

The organization calls it the "write-read-write" program.

Eileen Tarcay, an AAUW member who started the program, said she initiated the project with her belief that children will read more if they have books they enjoy and can call their own.

Ms. Tarcay said members of her organization look forward to the annual program.

"When I proposed this program, some members were a bit reluctant," Mrs. Tarcay said. "They said, 'I don't know anything about children's books.' At the end of the first year, they were so thrilled with the response of the children.

"One child said, 'I liked the book about football, and my grandpa liked it too.' Another child said she has hidden her book so no one else will get it dirty. Another wrote at the end of her thank-you note, 'I love you.' "

Mrs. Tarcay said she hoped other organizations would use the model to provide books to children in other city schools.

She and other AAUW members delivered books to the third-grade class at Eutaw Marshburn after reading three

Christmas stories to the children. One of the children asked Joan Maloney, who coordinated this year's program, if children could take the books home.

"They are your books," Mrs. Maloney said. "Yes, you can take them home."

"Yes! Yes!" was the response of some students.

"I thought we had to return them," said Dante Hendrick, 9.

Dante said he was happy to own his new book, titled "The Astronauts."

"This is the book I wanted," he said. "I thought I was going to get something else."

Rebekah Windley, 9, received two books on her favorite fictional character. One book is titled "Cinderella," the other is "The Egyptian Cinderella."

"I like her because Cinderella is so beautiful," said Rebekah, who promised to guard her new possessions. "I've got to keep them away from my [5-year-old] sister. She might tear them up."

Marquita Mann, 8, had asked for the classic "Little Women." Yesterday, she embraced it. She was so grateful that she started writing her thank-you letter minutes after receiving the book.

Even a boy who didn't get a football book he requested was satisfied. Another third-grader, Kendall Baker, who wants to grow up to be a football player or basketball player said he was happy with his new "Curious George" book.

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