Opening the 'Code' rekindled reading interest

How about you?

June 13, 2005|by BILL KOHLER

"Books are fun,
books are great.
Let's sit down with a book today."
- Barney the dinosaur

My sister-in-law didn't even intend it to be such a great gift.

During a visit last month to see my wife's family in Wisconsin, I was given a great gift - or at least loaned a great gift.

Kristin, one of my wife's four sisters, offered me a hardback copy of "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown.

I had heard such great things about the book. After all, 10 million readers can't be wrong, right? So, I dove in.

Within minutes, I was walking down the halls of the Louvre with Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon and French cryptologist Sophie Neveu. I was careening through the streets of Paris after dark in a carjacked taxicab. I was learning about historical events and paintings of which I had long forgotten or had never known.


My memory had slipped. Thanks to an increase in responsibilities and a decrease in down time, my book reading had been practically nonexistent. I still read several magazines and newspapers religiously, but like many of us, time is spent on things other than reading.

I had forgotten what it was like to be transported to another place, time or galaxy. I am a big fan of the Harry Potter series and found myself getting caught up in JK Rowlings' magical storytelling skills. I still cringe when people say the Potter books are evil and encourage kids to turn to the dark side.

Hogwarts! It has brought kids (and adults) into reading and opened a fun new world of best friends, meeting challenges, loyalty, growing up and magic.

Thanks to my parents, my Aunt Vonnie Grey and our shared Stephen King addiction, some very good teachers and my own curiosity, I've always had a love of reading - books, newspapers, comics and magazines.

My wife and I have made every effort to create that same love of books in our 4-year-old. Books in both cars, every room (even the bathrooms!) and before bedtime are a good start. We also go to storytimes when possible and make our own storyhours at home when Daddy is moving slowly in the mornings.

Not all kids are so lucky.

I understand that some kids don't like to read books and would rather watch TV and play those insipid and mind-numbing video games. For those who do like books and are old enough to read, here's some homework for parents:

Summer reading programs are in full swing throughout the Tri-State area. Some of the programs have begun, like the one at Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown, but there's still time to participate at libraries throughout the area.

Here are a few in our Tri-State communities:

n The Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library in Martinsburg, W.Va., is signing up kids ages 3 to 12 for its summer reading program, Discover New Trails @ Your Library. Registered club members will join a reading club, earn prizes, collect coupons, track down coupons and participate in special events. Plenty of events which don't require registration also are on tap this summer. Call 304-267-8288 for more information.

n The Lillian S. Besore Memorial Library in Greencastle, Pa., begins its summer reading program today. Highlights of "Many Reads and Daring Deeds" include elementary Spanish and Latin lessons, a drama camp from June 27 to July 1, a magician on Thursday at 1 p.m. ARTime programs and plenty of story hours. Call 717-597-7920 for more information.

n The summer reading program at the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library in Waynesboro, Pa., also starts today and includes crafts every Tuesday at 10 a.m. through July 30 and movies every Friday at 11 a.m. through July 29. Call 717-762-3335 for more information.

n The Coyle Free Library in Chambersburg, Pa., has begun its summer reading program, Dragons, Dreams and Daring Deeds. A sampling of activities includes prizes and awards, stories and crafts on Mondays for ages 6 to 8, Arts Express classes on Tuesday mornings for ages 8 to 12 and Family Thursdays. Call the Coyle Youth department at 717-709-0303.

n The Shepherdstown Public Library, at King and German Streets in Shepherdstown, W.Va., starts its summer reading program this month. For more information, call the library at 304-876-2783.

The opportunities are there for kids of all ages and all places to travel to distant lands, to read about animals big and small, and about heroes great and tall. What are you waiting for?

Bill Kohler is Tri-State editor of The Morning Herald. He may be reached at 1-800-626-6397, ext. 2023, or by e-mail at

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