Summer library programs aim to get kids hooked on reading


July 17, 2000|By William Lowe | William Lowe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ALTHOUGH SCHOOL is out for the summer, the Elkridge library branch is doing its part to ensure that learning continues for the community's children. Through a range of age-appropriate activities, children's librarian Irva Gabin and her colleagues impart the message that reading is pleasurable and essential.

During the summer, the Elkridge branch continues its preschool programs, most of which encourage parents to take an active role in helping their children learn to read. For example, the "Summer Clouds" activity July 6 combined craft making and storytelling in a half-hour session for 2- and 3-year-olds and their parents.

Another novel activity is the "Bedtime Storytime" series, a Wednesday evening program in which children are encouraged to wear their pajamas to the library. Through its children's programs, the library instills the idea that reading is enjoyable by connecting reading with fun activities.

"If we can get kids hooked on reading, they learn at an early age that reading is not only pleasurable but necessary," Gabin said.

For primary school-age children, the library's summer programs emphasize science and technology, along with a closing activity that focuses on the most popular character in contemporary children's literature: Harry Potter.

The Summer Science series, including this afternoon's "Weird Science" program, promotes scientific exploration through season-appropriate topics such as gardening and the climate of the Southwest. The Elkridge branch expects to continue its science education initiative in the fall through participation in an astronomy program funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

On Aug. 19, the library will have a family Web surfing session, "Mouse in the House?" for children ages 7 and older and their parents. The program is designed to benefit parents and children, with an emphasis on Internet resources for children. In terms of skill gain, however, parents often are the greatest beneficiaries of the library's computer training programs.

"Many of the kids already know more about using computers than their parents do," Gabin said.

Providing public computer access and computer training courses are two means by which the library contributes to bridge the digital divide. In addition, the Elkridge branch is the only Howard County library that provides a public-use computer for word processing. Such services are essential for families who do not have a computer in the home.

"We have one word processor, and it's been in high demand -- especially by kids writing papers for school," Gabin said.

The library's concluding program for primary school students, "Back to School With Harry Potter," is timely, given the enthusiasm among juvenile readers for J. K. Rowling's latest book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

While Irva Gabin says Rowling's Harry Potter series is meritorious, she notes that many less-publicized works are equally worth reading. However, Gabin recognizes that fads, too, have their uses.

"Anything that gets kids interested in reading is OK with me," Gabin said.

The Elkridge branch is also participating in the statewide "Reading Rhythms" summer programs for elementary and middle school pupils. Both programs are self-paced and feature themes related to music.

The "Sneaks' Reading Rhythms Adventure," which goes up to a fifth-grade level, is a board game that emphasizes the diverse functions of reading. Many of the activities promote music appreciation. Eight hundred children are participating in that program.

The middle school program, "Sound Bytes," is presented as CD liner notes, a format that is familiar and appealing to many preteen-agers and teen-agers. The program combines trivia about popular music with a summer reading log that encourages participants to recognize distinctions among genres.

Participants in both programs receive prizes as they complete tasks and upon completion of the entire activity. Prizes were donated for the "Reading Rhythms" by Chick-Fil-A, Six Flags America, McDonald's and other corporate sponsors. In addition, letters will be sent to area schools recognizing all students who successfully completed a summer reading program.

The Elkridge library branch is at 6540 Washington Blvd. Information: Irva Gabin, 410-313-5085.

Service honors

Two Ellicott City residents, Rosemarie Sansbury and Jeanne Zarnoch, were recently honored for reaching 30 years of service in the Maryland Comptroller's Office.

"The experience represented by dedicated officials like Rose Sansbury and Jeanne Zarnoch is one of the best strengths behind our service tradition," Comptroller William Donald Schafer said.

Sansbury is a manager in the comptroller's office's information technology division, and Zarnoch is director of the comptroller's office of personnel services.

Global friends

Global Friendships, a cultural exchange program, is seeking area families to be hosts to students during August. The exchange program is designed to give students a short-term experience of daily life in the United States. Jahva House owner Devon Potler is participating in the program by donating the upper rooms of his Ellicott City coffeehouse for use as a gathering place for the exchange students.

Melanie Durantaye of Ellicott City and Charlotte Urgolites of Columbia are co-coordinators of the 2000 program in Howard County.

Host families have been secured for 12 of the 24 Spanish students who will arrive Aug. 1.

Families and individuals interested being hosts for all or part of August are encouraged to inquire immediately.

All of the students speak English and are fully insured.

Information: Melanie Durantaye, 410-461-7738; or Charlotte Urgolites, 301-596-0548.

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