Summer books for fun and for learning

SATURDAY MAILBOX

June 24, 2000

The Sun's question of the month got me thinking about how to continue the momentum of learning that my granddaughter has developed in her kindergarten class, where she was very fortunate to have two dedicated teachers who challenged and motivated her class to read and learn.

We want to continue to enhance her abilities and help her prepare for the first grade.

Our plan is to follow the lead of her teachers and do the following.

First, obtain a list of words that were required in kindergarten and review them.

Second, obtain a list of required words for the first grade, begin learning them and find books and activities that contain those words.

Third, set aside reading time each day. This will include an afternoon break and cooling-off before bed. When we spend time on the computer, we will use programs that teach words and activities appropriate to her age.

Fourth, we will utilize the library and its reading programs, The Sun's "Reading by Nine" information (especially the stories and activities) and the children's section of the Sunday comics.

We also plan to take field trips to bookstores when they have a special reading event and to malls when they have programs that will encourage reading.

The challenge in all of this is to make my granddaughter want to read and to make it fun.

We will have her keep a journal of the books she has read and of her reading activities. We will set a goal of 20 books or related activities a month and reward her with her choice of a trip to the local dollar store, an ice cream parlor or a snowball stand.

We will also let her pick a new book to purchase when she reaches her monthly goal.

By making all this a part of the daily summer routine, we will keep her mind engaged as she learns new things, expand her world, increase her vocabulary and give her a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence as she reaches her goals.

This will prepare her for success in first grade.

Robert Snyder, Baltimore

Yes, I have a reading plan for my children this summer: Each child, except my 3-year-old, must read a proverb a day.

My 8-year-old daughter is registered with the Enoch Pratt library summer reading program. My three boys are required to read for 30 minutes each day, and they also have to read the proverbs.

As a parent, I am committed to reading to my 3-year-old three times a day.

I am also committed to read a book a week.

Joyce Chapman, Baltimore

As a high school student, what do I plan to read over the summer?

Franz Kafka's "The Trial," some Friedrich Nietzsche, an account of contemporary Dachau, political essays, some nonfiction on existentialism by the usual gang and at least one psychological study on sex or love.

I also plan to read J.D. Salinger's lesser-known work, Aldous Huxley's lesser-known work, Anne Frank's diary, perhaps some Kurt Vonnegut and Edward Burroughs, Herman Hesse's "Beneath the Wheel," Oscar Wilde's classics, poems by Robinson Jeffers and a collection of essays on AIDS.

But what will I read over the summer? Books required for school.

For English literature next year, I'll spend time with dry, stuffy 17th- and 18th-century classics - 700 pages or so whose relevance is incomprehensible.

History class,too, demands mycontinued intellectual commitment.

Required reading futilely tries to get apathetic and shallow youngsters to exercise their minds, but those students have abandoned that path, and will continue that way despite well-intentioned but ill-conceived administrative attempts to steer them toward a higher plane.

Summer reading lists do succeed, however, in preventing the readers among us from getting much reading done.

And they do so in the only weeks of the year in which we might possibly have the time to pursue voluntary, non-patronizing reading.

Brendan Camiel, Towson

The answer to The Sun's question, "How do you keep your kids learning and their minds engaged during their summer vacation?" is simple.

I just hand over the TV remote and forget about them.

They do enough reading during the school year. They deserve a little violence, sex and a few vulgarities after working hard for nine months in school.

R.D. Bush, Columbia

Executions honor murder victims

If we abolish capital punishment, aren't we showing preference for the sacredness of the murderers' life over the sacred life of the victim?

Life imprisonment without parole, with its promise of tomorrows for a sociopath who denied them to his or her victim, is not justice.

It's a denial of concern for the victim, in particular, and a denial of concern for the safety and well-being of society as a whole.

No one disputes that every opportunity to establish the innocence of an accused murderer should be offered. DNA tests should be mandatory and the accused given the right to appeal after appeal, if necessary.

Taking the life of a man takes all he has. It's a very tragic business.

Society should not be seeking revenge, but rather providing equal justice for the victim as well as the criminal.

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