Young readers get boost Program uses discussion to draw students into books, library

April 12, 1996|By Miranda Barnes | Miranda Barnes,SUN STAFF

Latesha Ford never liked to read, but after she found herself in a book group where everyone was expected to talk about what they were reading, she warmed to the idea.

"I knew I had to go back and talk about it," said Ms. Ford, 17, a Dunbar High School student whose participation in a reading project sponsored by the Maryland Humanities Council may encourage her to go to the library more often.

Shouts and applause for Ms. Ford and two dozen others filled the Edgar Allan Poe room of the Central Enoch Pratt Free Library last night when residents of Flag House Courts and Westport Homes were feted for their achievement.

Pratt assistant director James Welbourne was on hand to honor their "indoctrination to the society of readers."

Started with a grant from Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust and supported by local restaurants and book stores, the program brought together public housing residents, scholars and librarians for weekly discussions on books and topics such as love, family and death.

One by one last night, participants went to the podium to receive certificates of completion and copies of "In Search of Color Everywhere, an Anthology of African American Poetry."

"It feels good to watch it from writing a grant, to seeing all these people here," said Barbara Wells Sarudy, executive director of -- the council, who conceived the program.

Tammy Davis-Smith says the program opened a new world to her daughter Sheena Davis, 14.

"It introduced her to a lot of African-American writers," Ms. Davis-Smith said. "They need to keep it going."

The Friends of Enoch Pratt Free Library announced a $5,000 grant to continue the program, and the council recently submitted a second grant request to the Edwards Trust.

Sarah Siebert, a board member of the Edwards Trust, said, "I can only tell you I have good reports. I was very impressed with the proposal and that's good."

Pub Date: 4/12/96

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