Start summer by getting kids involved in reading

June 11, 2004

As summer vacation begins for students in the Washington County school system, we urge parents not to let students spend all their time off playing computer games and watching action videos.

It may take some persuasion to get them to see it, but reading can be just as entertaining as any video game, and is much more intellectually stimulating.

If parents aren't sure how to get started on this reading-promotion project, the Washington County Free Library can help with its "Reading Rules" program.

The program is designed for students from preschool to eighth grade. To sign up, come to the children's desk at the main library, at the corner of South Potomac and Antietam streets in downtown Hagerstown.


Each child will be a given a game board, a coupon for an ice cream from the Chick Fil-A restaurant and a bag to carry books in.

When the child completes six tasks on the game board - and a task is reading for a set amount of time - the child and his or her parents return to the library, where they receive a small prize like a sticker or a bookmark.

The theme of this year's program is "Fractured Fairy Tales," and includes books that retell some of the classic stories like "Beauty and the Beast" and others that talk about legends and myths from around the world.

Though the program has already begun, its official kickoff is today, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the main branch.

There will be two puppet shows, including "The Frog Prince" and "Book, Book, Book."

Crystal Brown will be there to tell stories, there'll be a film of the "Rumplestilskin" fairy tale and face painting. Finally, there'll be a craft event, in which participants will construct a headband representing "Anansi," a spider from a folk tale that came to American by way of Africa and the Caribbean islands.

It sounds like a nice event, but even if you can't make it, consider getting your child involved in this reading program.

Research shows that the earlier children are read to, the better readers they become. It's an essential skill in the working world and a way to experience things and explore ideas without traveling all over the world to do so. Readers travel in their minds, and we encourage parents to start their children on that journey now.

How to remember Reagan?

Because there is no public memorial to the late President Reagan in the State of Maryland, a group honoring his memory is proposing that one of the state's counties be renamed for the late president.

With all due respect, there's got to be a better way to memorialize the president who was instrumental in the demise of the Soviet Union.

Grover Norquist of the Ronald Reagan Legacy project told The Associated Press that "anything named after foreign royalty is up for renaming." He suggested Prince George's County, which he said was named after a "foreign potentate."

We would bet that not one in 10 residents of Prince George's County could tell you who Prince George was. And while Norquist and company may feel that a change to Reagan County would prompt everyone who heard the name to remember the late president, over time, the significance of the name would fade, because there would be no context, no explanation of who Reagan was on most county documents.

It would be much better, we believe, to create a Reagan memorial that would not only honor his memory, but tell those who visited what he accomplished, as president and before.

For us, Reagan's presidency was a needed antidote to the Jimmy Carter years, when there was a growing uncertainty about the nation's direction. Agree with him or not, Reagan had confidence in the country and its citizens and communicated that in a way that made others share it.

Just the prospect of a more resolute president prompted the release of the American hostages in Iran. And the Soviets' belief that Reagan would do whatever it took to gain military supremacy pushed the USSR toward reform.

Those are stories that should told in a way no name change ever could. Create a memorial or a museum instead.

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