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Books bring parents, kids together

May 04, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Kimberlee Frederick Palm, a special education teacher at Boonsboro Middle School, has combined her love of reading with her desire to help students struggling with reading by forming a book club for youngsters and their parents.

"I am keenly aware that lots of kids are behind in reading, so this seemed a great way for kids and parents to work together on those skills," Palm said.

The program was launched Nov. 3 after a letter went home to all parents explaining what the parent/child book club was all about.

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Each month, the book club meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. in the school's media center. The book to be discussed is read at home by the students and parents.

The PTA gave the club $200, and Target and Martin's Food Market donated gifts cards and money, Palm said.

The money is used to purchase books and books on tape so all can borrow the books for club activities.

In addition to a book discussion at each meeting, there are hands-on activities planned around the theme of that month's book.

"After reading 'Maniac Magee,' the students studied further about what it is like to be homeless," Palm said.

A guest speaker from REACH came to speak and the students decided to donate more than 25 hygiene bags for homeless people, which they sewed and filled themselves.

Ryan Ward said he joined the club in the seventh grade.

"I didn't like reading a lot before, but I enjoy it more now," he said.

Jarad Taylor said he took the letter home to his mother, Judy Taylor, who thought it would be a great way to bring them closer while helping him improve his reading.

"It's been great because it makes us read together," Judy Taylor said by telephone. "Mrs. Palm has done such great things with this."

Jarad and his mother will read "Hatchet" for the next meeting of the book club.

"I used to read sometimes but not a lot," Jarad said, noting that the club has changed that for him. "This is helping me in other classes, too."

"Hatchet" is about a boy who lives in the wilderness after a plane crash. It won a Newbery Award, as did many of the other books Palm has chosen for the club.

"The activity I've planned for that book is going to be about camping safety and how to build a wood pile," Palm said.

Palm said she chooses the books, looking for variety, high interest, comedy or light fare, and has been pleased with the results. Some of the other books on this year's list are "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Holes" and "Twits."

Chaz Sexton said he read "Holes" and then saw the movie of the same name.

"I liked the book better than the movie," he said.

The club currently is for students in seventh and eighth grades, but next year, students in grades six through eight will be eligible, Palm said.

Some students bring both parents, others just one.

"It can also be another adult in the child's life," Palm said.

A native of Pittsburgh, Palm has taught in Washington County for five years, three at Boonsboro Middle.

Palm overcame losing the vision in her left eye in childhood and became a teacher. She also never strayed from her love of reading, a gift she now shares with others.

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