Bay Reflection
Reading Notebook
Dispatches from the Front Line of Literacy

by Lori L. Sikorski

Many years ago, while sitting in my first grade classroom, I read three words that changed my life. Run, Spot, run! They were followed by tales of Dick and Jane and Life In a Big Town. As my vocabulary grew, my love of reading did, too. I remember driving past billboards and shouting out the words to my parents. I felt as if I alone had unlocked the key to a wonderful secret. I knew it was a secret that would take me places.

I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. The summer bookmobile would sit on my street for an hour every Thursday afternoon while I browsed and flipped through pages. An elderly neighbor would do the same, and we both would sigh together at the awe of reading.

No matter what age you are, I bet you can still remember the first time you put words together and read your first sentence.

I have had the wonderful fortune of reliving this memory through my children over the last few years.

My eldest began reading in first grade. She came home with her reader, Little Duck Dance, and sat on the couch, moving her lips with a whisper of each word. When she had this down, she read the story aloud to her father and me. She had found her key .

This summer, at age 12, Hollie joined the summer reading program at the local library. She knocked out over 60 books, including the Nancy Drew mysteries and a couple in the Dear American series. This was her year to read my old tattered Lois Linsky favorite, Strawberry Girl.

My son, Joey, now nine, also learned to read quite well, only he began in kindergarten. The day before school ended that year, he read to me out of the book his teacher had made for her class. His face was priceless. His teacher told me it was mostly from memory, but I knew when he began to read the Wheaties box, that he, too, had found his key.

Emily, our youngest, is only six. She started second grade this year. Not to be outdone by her big sister, she read just shy of 60 books for the reading program this summer. Mostly books with lots of chapters.

None of our children made friends with Dick, Jane or Spot for that matter. They all went through different reading programs in their Calvert County schools. This year two new reading programs will be introduced in Calvert County. K-2 will enjoy a program called Open Court 2000, which helps younger children learn by going from sounds to sight, not sight to sound as many past programs have done. Grades 3-5 will join a program called Invitations to Literacy 1999, which combines reading and writing to build comprehension.

In the middle school, both teachers and parents have been so eager to expand reading options that we've formed a committee to develop lists of novels that we'd like to see our children read and hope they'll enjoy. There is even talk of introducing Literature Circles into the curriculum.

What an exciting time it is to learn to read! New Bay Times feels this excitement, too. We will be covering the front lines of literacy every few weeks. We'll track the process of this new reading program, along with reading programs in Anne Arundel and surrounding counties. We'll look at things parents, grandparents, family members and mentors can donate to our children today to help them love literature. We'll also touch upon the classics and hope that you will write and share your favorite stories and authors.

Read along with us.

| Issue 37 |

Volume VII Number 37
September 16-22, 1999
New Bay Times

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