Reading and regionalism

Summer study: Baltimore County's successful program has attracted 11 others statewide to join.

June 14, 1999

EDUCATORS know that if students continue to read during their summer vacations, their skills will remain sharp.

For years, Maryland library systems have organized summer reading offerings, some more successful than others. This year, a dozen library systems in the state have adopted a proven program and will enjoy the benefits of cooperation.

Developed by the Baltimore County libraries, the reading program involves a mascot, a cat named Sneaks, who for the past 14 years has embarked on a summer adventure.

This year, Sneaks will surf his way around the world. Children receive game boards, on which they record the books they read and answer questions about their reading. Prizes are awarded to individuals and schools based on the number of books read. Last year, about 24,000 Baltimore County children participated.

Prince George's County joined Baltimore County's program last year and were impressed by strong response from children and parents. This spring, Baltimore County library officials extended the invitation to their colleagues around Maryland, which has long been recognized nationally for the high level of cooperation among its libraries.

Baltimore County officials were surprised and delighted that 10 other jurisdictions, along with Prince George's, said they would join the program. All of the libraries will benefit from a unified marketing campaign and economies of scale in purchasing the prizes and printed material.

More important, parents will be able to bring their children to almost any public library in Maryland to take part.

With more than 140,000 children expected to join, the program is a good example of regional cooperation. Nearly every jurisdiction in the Baltimore area has signed on, along with Montgomery, Prince George's, Frederick, Garrett and St. Mary's counties.

They decided that cooperation makes more sense than going it alone.

Obviously, this program offers a valuable lesson for more than just young readers.

Pub Date: 6/14/99

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