Readers earn awards, governor's praise

Day at Port Discovery reward for book tallies

May 27, 1999|By Ricky Beyer | Ricky Beyer,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Microphone in hand, looking a bit like an overdressed talk-show host, Gov. Parris N. Glendening waded into a sea of eager children at Port Discovery yesterday to ask them about reading.

"How many books did you read?" he asked.

The answers were in the hundreds -- and for some children, more than a thousand.

"What else did you do? I mean, did you eat or sleep?" the governor joked with one child, whose efforts tallied 443 books. "I set out to read seven books this summer. You all have me ashamed."

The students were getting a school holiday as guests of honor at the children's museum in downtown Baltimore for winning the governor's Reading Across Maryland competition.

Begun in November 1997, the program is aimed at encouraging children to read for fun while involving their families. Schools competed in five geographic regions, with the winners based on the most books read per student.

The top school in the state was Baltimore's George Washington Elementary, at 224 books per pupil. The school also accounted for five of the eight elementary pupils who individually pored over the pages of more than 1,000 books.

Ricky Medley of Baltimore's second-place Medfield Heights Elementary wore a tangle of medals around his neck, each representing a milestone in his 1,005-book journey. His principal, James R. Sasiadek, said the fifth-grader was "an emerging reader."

Maggie Kennedy, a Medfield reading teacher, explained that Ricky had come from Jamaica unable to read at the beginning of the school year. But starting with picture books with one word to a page, he has worked his way to a second-grade reading level.

Kennedy credited community involvement for the reading program's success at Medfield Heights.

"Parents and grandparents are enlisted as coaches," she said. "We had 99 percent [family] participation."

With this encouragement, Kennedy said, the children read books of their own choosing daily.

"We don't even have to give prizes anymore. They read because they want to read."

Ricky supported the observation. "I take a lot of books home each day and read them to my mother," Ricky said. "I love reading in the bus, at school "

According to the governor's office, the top reader was another Medfield pupil, Felicia Peddicord, who tallied 1,220 books. Her mother, Claudette Peddicord, recalled that Felicia "used to come home crying" because of frustration with reading, and "now she wants to be a librarian."

Overall, 135 schools participated in Reading Across Maryland with pupils reading a total of 637,411 books. The winners in other regions who sent pupils to the event were Patuxent Elementary in Prince George's County, North East Elementary in Cecil County, Green Holly Elementary in St. Mary's County, and Maugansville Elementary in Washington County.

Pub Date: 5/27/99

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