Reading Day turns a page for literacy

May 14, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD


For Karlee Forcini, Washington County Reading Day meant finding a few new additions to her 1,000-book collection at home.

For elementary school librarian Janice Hauver, it meant being photographed with a few of her favorite authors.

For author Carolyn Reeder, it meant being able to see what other children's writers were up to.

Children, teachers and writers commingled Saturday for Partners in Literacy's third annual Reading Day at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown.

More than 35 authors were on hand to sign books and meet fans. There also was food, free books and face painting. Event spokeswoman Kathleen O'Connell said the event was aimed at bolstering literacy in Washington County.


"We want people to see that reading is fun, the authors are cool and to come out and have a good time," said O'Connell, who is the assistant director of the Washington County Free Library.

O'Connell chairs Partners in Literacy, a committee of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

The idea for Reading Day came about in 1992, in response to a report indicating that 17 percent of Washington County adults were illiterate.

"We may have improved a couple of percentage points since," O'Connell said. "It's fine, but it's not wonderful."

O'Connell said further improvement meant encouraging young children to read for at least 15 minutes a night.

Karlee, 8, a second-grader at Bester Elementary School, said she read every day and, according to her family's estimate, has at least 1,000 books.

Every once in a while, her little sister Jenna, 3, will try to read one of them.

"She'll pick one up and just start going, making up her own little story," said her grandmother Jeanne Kitchens, who lives in Hagerstown.

Karlee came to Reading Day with her mother, Nicole Forcini, grandmother and sister in search of "Junie B. Jones" books, her favorite series.

Hauver, of Frederick, Md., came to the festival to meet Reeder.

"I read her book 'Shades of Gray' when I was in seventh grade," said Hauver after posing for a photograph with the author.

Hauver said when she gets back to Hillcrest Elementary School in Frederick, where she works, she was going to post the picture next to Reeder's book.

Reeder also attracted another fan, elementary school teacher Marcy Canterna.

Canterna, who teaches and lives in Murrysville, Pa., said she started attending Reading Day because she found out that Reeder was a frequent participant at the event.

She also uses it as an opportunity to bring in new books and cool stories about the books' authors.

"It sends them to the libraries," Canterna said. "Any time they can meet the author as a human being, they get more excited about that author."

While Reeder was glad to meet fans and help teachers, she said she was glad to be able to meet other writers, an opportunity that doesn't come around often.

"Writing is lonely, lonely work," she said.

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