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Children get free books

Washington County Reading Day celebrated at Valley Mall

Washington County Reading Day celebrated at Valley Mall

May 06, 2007|By PEPPER BALLARD

HALFWAY-No books can be found on 7-year-old Elizabeth Marick's bed when she goes to sleep at night, but by morning, evidence of the first-grader's bookish ways usually surfaces.

"I've found at least seven books on her bed and a couple of dead flashlights," said her mother, Christina Marick.

Elizabeth, who loves nature books and "Magic Tree House" books, was one of several children who got free books on Saturday at Valley Mall as part of Washington County Reading Day.

Washington County Free Library librarians and volunteers stocked tables in the center of the mall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with books to give out to children, who mostly were elementary-school age. More than 1,000 books were handed out, said Kathleen O'Connell, the library's assistant director.

"It's aimed at the younger kids. It's so important to get your children to read," O'Connell said. "Reading is a fundamental skill. If you read and you read well, you'll be successful in life."

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Some children who were told of the event through the library or their school dressed up as storybook characters. Two children's book authors, Mary Downing Hahn and Deborah Guarino, spoke to the children and later signed books.

Four-year-old Bryan Streletz can't read just yet, but has memorized several books. Diego books are his favorite.

"I got different, all kinds of books," he said.

His mother, Krista Streletz, 32, of Harrisonville, Pa., didn't know that reading day was happening Saturday.

The Harshman family was geared up for reading day.

Hunter Harshman, 8, reads to his 4-year-old brother, Tanner Harshman.

"I like him to read to me," Tanner said. "I like the spy books."

The two boys eagerly sifted through the books laid out on the table. "Mr. Jeff" - Jeff Ridgeway, who is head of the library's children's library - acknowledged the pair when they got excited he was there.

Briana Banas, 8, a third-grader at the Fountaindale School for Arts and Academic Excellence, already has at least 100 books at home, but her parents said they will make room for more.

"Reading is important to everything," said Briana's father, Brent Banas, 32. "If you can't read, you can't learn."

Washington County Public Schools will hand out summer reading diaries for children to use to record their summer reading. Diaries can be brought to the Washington County Free Library throughout the summer to collect prizes.

Partners in Literacy and the Nora Roberts Foundation sponsored the event along with other area businesses, including The Herald-Mail, Antietam Cable Television and Food Resources Inc., O'Connell said.

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