Author will help pupils get `wild about reading'


January 31, 2003|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHAT STARTED out as a simple library information session at Lime Kiln Middle School has turned into a major literary event.

The Fulton school will be host of a "Wild About Reading" night Feb. 19, with prize-winning Baltimore author Jane Leslie Conly as the featured guest.

The program is the brainchild of Mary Roepcke, media specialist at the school. About a month ago, librarians from the Howard County Central Library met with her and Principal Patrick Saunderson to discuss the resources at the local library.

Roepcke, who considers herself something of an expert on libraries and what they have to offer, was amazed. "There were things that I didn't know," she said.

She decided to create an event that would inform the community about the library's resources. To make the event extra special, she invited Conly, author of Crazy Lady!, Racso and the Rats of NIMH and Trout Summer. Crazy Lady! is a Newberry Honor Book.

The event, scheduled from 6:45 p.m. to 9 p.m., will take place in the school cafeteria, media center and classrooms.

To start, everyone will meet in the cafeteria, where Conly will discuss her books and talk about the writing process. "We have students who are reading her books and are very excited about her visit," Roepcke said.

Conly will speak for about a half-hour and then take questions. Her books will be available for purchase and autographs.

Afterward, pupils will meet with librarians who will talk with them about some of the latest offerings for teen-agers and will discuss the resources available through the library.

For example, with a library card and personal identification number, pupils can gain access to, which provides live homework help.

"If you have a math question, you work with a math specialist," Roepcke said. "This is so fabulous because it's free through the public library."

While all this is going on, a book fair, in which age-appropriate books will be available for purchase, will be held.

"It's a community reading night," Roepcke said. "We're calling it `Wild About Reading' because our mascot is the leopard."

A visiting poet

Next month, another local literary star will lead a workshop, this time at Historic Savage Mill. Performance poet Linda Joy Burke will help celebrate Black History Month with an event organized by the International Center for Artistic Development.

The workshop, for children ages 7 to 14, will run from 10 a.m. to noon and will include poems by the artist, who lives in Columbia and has served as poet-in-residence at Howard County Center of African American Culture.

Burke said she plans to begin with storytelling, poetry and interactive music-making with percussion instruments. Some of the poetry will be Burke's, and some will be by poets she admires.

"It's a celebration for Black History Month. So the stories that I'm using are uplifting for children," she said.

In the second hour, she will help workshop participants write their own poems.

Burke has been writing for about 30 years and has been performing for about 20, but this will be her first time at the International Center for Artistic Development, which is in Savage Mill.

Camellia Blackwell, executive director of the 12-year-old nonprofit cultural and educational organization, said she heard Burke at the Center of African American Culture.

"I saw her perform, and I was impressed with her," Blackwell said.

When the organization began looking for people for a program next month, Burke applied and was accepted.

In addition to performing and leading workshops in the region, Burke teaches poetry at Carver School for the Arts. She has received the Distinguished Black Marylanders Award for Art, sponsored by the Towson University Office of Diversity.

To register for the program: 301-604-4484. The program can accept 20 to 25 people, Blackwell said. The cost is $15 a person; $25 for two people; and $30 for three. Blackwell hopes to complete registration by Feb. 6.

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