Dr. Seuss ranks as the big draw for Read Across America Day


March 06, 2001|By Betsy Diehl | Betsy Diehl,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FINDING DR. Seuss' books was not easy last week, but don't blame the Grinch for taking them all. Teachers, parents and others snapped them up from libraries and bookstores in anticipation of Read Across America Day.

"We have been a major supplier of Dr. Seuss books to the county," said Susan Stonesifer, children's librarian at the east Columbia branch library. "The shelves are cleared off."

The story was the same at Borders Books and Music at Columbia Crossing.

"Our recent sales [of Dr. Seuss books] show a higher trend than average," said Emmet Pedrick, assistant manager for training and loss prevention.

So where did all the books go?

Many were taken to east Columbia elementary schools by volunteer readers Friday to celebrate Read Across America Day and the birthday of children's author Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss.

"We have seen parents in and out all day with Dr. Seuss books tucked under their arms," said Eleanor Holman, reading specialist at Guilford Elementary School.

Holman estimated that about 50 parents shared storybooks with the youngsters during Friday's reading event.

Nancy Mendoza , a Thunder Hill Elementary reading specialist, said parents and dignitaries have visited the school during past reading celebrations, but this year, Principal Thomas Bruner suggested doing something new.

"I suggested to her to do something with the middle school," Bruner said. "She seemed enthusiastic and took it from there."

Mendoza arranged with Margaret Grimes, a reading specialist at Oakland Mills Middle School, to have about 40 seventh- and eighth-graders come to Thunder Hill to share favorite stories with kindergartners through fifth-graders.

The middle-schoolers practiced reading aloud before the visit, Grimes said.

"We showed them how to hold the book up and ask the kids how to predict what will happen," she said.

Nearly half the readers are former Thunder Hill pupils, Grimes said. But that is not the only reason that pupils wanted to visit.

"When I was in elementary school, I loved to hear stories from my teachers," said eighth-grader Valerie Freund. "I thought it would be fun to give them the same experience."

Dasher Green Elementary tapped older pupils from neighboring Owen Brown Middle School to read to its children.

"We thought this would be a golden opportunity for middle school students to come next door and read to students," said Diane Martin, assistant principal at Dasher Green, adding that the PTA provided ice cream for all.

At Atholton Elementary, staff and pupils - many sporting headwear a la "The Cat in the Hat" - marked the day by sharing Dr. Seuss' stories during reading time.

Music teacher Patty Hammer went beyond just the hat, dressing in full costume as the famous feline.

Stevens Forest Elementary pupils were treated to tales read by visitors Debbie Thompson, sales manager of membership services for the Columbia Association, and Jan Morrison, director of the Oakland Historical Manor.

At Talbott Springs Elementary, Liz Henzey, assistant director of the Columbia Association Arts Center, shared stories with third-graders.

"We read three Dr. Seuss books," said Henzey, who hopes to participate next year. "It really brought back memories."

Phelps Luck Elementary welcomed numerous guest readers Friday, including Howard County Police Chief Wayne Livesay, WJZ-TV news anchor Vic Carter and the Howard County school board.

"We have lots of contacts," said Sandy Keaton, the school's reading specialist, who already is thinking about next year's event.

Keaton said guest readers were provided with refreshments and hospitality in the hopes that they would want to return.

"Once we get them here, we won't let them go until they've signed up for next year," she said.

Community cleanup

Now is the perfect time to tidy up your neighborhood in anticipation of spring weather and outdoor activities.

Kings Contrivance village will hold three community cleanups starting this weekend with MacGill's Common.

The cleanup moves to Dickinson next weekend, followed by Huntington on March 24 and 25.

Refuse bins will be placed in the pool parking lot in each neighborhood during the designated clean-up weekend.

Information: 410-381-9600.

Parting words

County Councilman Guy J. Guzzone has a favorite childhood book, but it has nothing to do with cats in hats or green eggs and ham.

His all-time favorite is a volume of the Childcraft Encyclopedia that he received in the early 1970s, when he was about 7.

"There was a special edition about children around the world," said Guzzone, a North Laurel-Savage Democrat.

He spoke fondly of the evenings he spent curled up with his grandmother, pouring over the pages that introduced him to children like, and unlike, himself.

"Obviously, there are a lot of differences of people around the world," Guzzone said.

Those differences - and the similarities - intrigued him. He said the book is out of date, because the world has changed so much in 30 years. So why does he still keep it on his desk at home?

"Probably because I loved my grandmother," he said.

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