Advice and strategies to help your children read The...

JUST FOR PARENTS

February 17, 2002

Advice and strategies to help your children read

The person in the White House

WANTED: Person for top government position for the next four years, with possibility of renewal. Must be at least 35 years of age, have been born in the United States and like to travel. Responsibilities include making speeches, acting as commander in chief of the military, and ensuring that all children learn to read by third grade.

No, you haven't turned to the classifieds by mistake. This is a job description for one of the most powerful positions in the United States: the presidency. On Monday, we pay tribute to that office with President's Day, which celebrates the February birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Our children can develop more awareness of the awesome responsibilities of our presidents with these fun and interesting ways to learn more.

THE PRESIDENT'S JOB. Many children have seen the president on television or in newspapers; perhaps throwing out the first baseball; walking his pets; or meeting with dignitaries. Your child can learn about many more of the fascinating duties of the president at: http://americanhistory.si.edu/presidency/home.html. (Look under the "activities" section.)

Then ask questions to stimulate an interesting discussion: What does the president of the United States do all day? What parts of the job do you think you would enjoy? If you could be president for a day, what would you do?

ALL THE PRESIDENTS' PETS. At www.whitehouse.gov/kids/abc/, take a tour of the White House with Spotty, President Bush's sociable springer spaniel. Find out which room is Spotty's favorite by romping through the six floors, 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms and eight staircases that make up 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. Then take a history quiz given by Laura Bush's cat, India. After visiting this site, ask your child to write a story about one of our presidents - from a pet's point of view.

READERS OF LEADERS. Some books about our country's leaders:

If I Were President, by Catherine Stier

George Washington's Cows, by David Small

So You Want to be President? by Judith St. George

A. Lincoln and Me, by Louise Borden

The Story of the White House, by Kate Waters

A Picture Book of George Washington, by David A. Adler- Susan Rapp

Village Reading Center

Learn about the spirit of the Olympics

As the Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City wind down this week, use the games as an opportunity for your kids to get hooked on real-life stories of courage, competition and excellence. These world-class athletes are the sorts of role models that young people can emulate. Go to the official Olympics Web site at www.saltlake2002.com to learn more about favorites like figure skater Michelle Kwan. Youngsters can also pick up valuable lessons in determination, discipline and sense of fair play.

Pass the torch of knowledge to your children by picking up these books and continuing to spread the spirit of the Olympics:

The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics 2002 by David Wallechinsky

Winter Olympics by Larry Dane Brimner

100 Unforgettable Moments in the Winter Olympics by Bob Italia

The Ancient Greek Olympics by Richard Woff

The First Olympic Games: A Gruesome Greek Myth With a Happy Ending by Jean Richards- Athima Chansanchai

New York Times Best-Sellers List: Children's Picture Books

1. The Three Pigs by David Wiesner (weeks on list: 2)

2. Olivia by Ian Falconer (71)

3. Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer (21)

4. You Read to Me, I'll Read to You by Mary Ann Hoberman (8)

5. The Stray Dog by Marc Simont (2)

6. Mouse's First Valentine by Lauren Thompson (3)

7. Consider Love by Sandra Boynton (3)

8. The Water Hole by Graeme Base (8)

9. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson (1)

10. I Spy: Year-Round Challenger! by Jean Marzollo (10)

CALLING ALL KIDS

We want to hear from you. Write and tell us your current favorites in these categories: book, movie, TV show, CD and video or computer game.

You can reply to one or all of the categories. But for each one you name, please explain why you like it -- in three sentences or less.

Make sure to get a parent's permission and to include your name, age, address, home telephone number and a recent school photo. Kids, by the way, should be 13 years old or younger.

Look for some of the answers in upcoming issues. Thanks!

Send replies to:

Calling all Kids, Baltimore Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278

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