Front Lines of Literacy The Gift of Reading
By Lori L. Sikorski

Ah the holiday season is officially here. Let the reading begin! Reading? What about all those presents to wrap, the cookies to bake, the holly to be hung?

This time of year most people will be lucky if they get a chance to read their holiday cards. Yet this can be the best time of year to read.

There is little better than snuggling in with a good book, newspaper or magazine. It is also a great time to revisit some of the holiday classics.

Holiday reading has become as traditional as putting up the wreaths in our home. As we gather around the glow of the tree, we fall into the winter wonderland with Frosty, ride the sleigh with red-nosed Rudolph and, of course, travel back to Bethlehem to the birth of Jesus.

Within days, my three children will be out for winter break. Although we have over 300 children's books lining shelves in their playroom, we will still make a trip to the library to select more.

Any selection is a good one, as long as your child has a desire to read it. Of course we all want to read to be informed, but we like to make a few selections that will lighten our minds and leave our hearts silly.

As a parent, grandparent or mentor, you can nudge your child into a love of reading. Choose several book that both of you will enjoy. Your child will enjoy the books more when they see that you, too, love to read.

As you pick, look at the title and illustrations of the books. Remember what they say: You can never judge a book by its cover.

Here are some recommendations made by Resources for Educators Inc. for readers from very young to more advanced. Many can be checked out at Anne Arundel and Calvert County libraries.

· Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night by Cynthia Rylant. Follow Henry, his parents and Mudge their big dog as they go on a camping and hiking adventure.

· Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber. Doing something for the first time can be scary, so when Ira is invited to a sleep-over, he can't decide if bringing his teddy bear would make it easier.

· Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child's Book of Poems. Rhymes and poetry blend speaking and reading practice. This book is full of silly sayings and thoughts from the minds of many young children.

For more seasonal reading, then try these holiday favorites:

· The Animals' Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum. Written in 1977, this story will warm even the coldest nights when read together.

· Morris's Disappearing Bag, by Rosemary Wells, is an easy-to-read, fun look at a family Christmas. There seems to be a little bit of Morris in everyone.

· Triplet Trouble and The Runaway Reindeer by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones. A holiday house-decorating contest brings prizes and a bit of competition to the Tucker Triplets. Easy to read.

· Merry Christmas Amelia Bedilia by Peggy Parish. Amelia has wrapped up with lots of laughs as her literal mind goes to work. She stuffs the stockings, trims the tree and pops corn, all in her silly, silly way.

· Nancy Drew - The Nutcracker Ballet Mystery, by Carolyn Keene, is a story that will interest any girl, young or old, who loves Nancy Drew. Set during the holidays in New York City.

·The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. "The Christmas Story takes on a strangely moving depth of meaning and shines through with a new brilliance," says the reviewer for the Denver Post. (Children's Theatre of Annapolis dramatizes The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Dec. 17-19 at 2pm SaSu; 7pm F; 7pm Dec. 18 @ Pascal Center, Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold. $8: 410/757-2281.)

· The Night Before Christmas, the classic by Clement C. Moore. Sure to add magic to the young readers and memories to the old.

· Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843, but Old Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future still delight all ages.

· For more advanced readers, the center of the holiday reading buzz is a child named Harry Potter, an unassuming boy who discovers his magical powers. Fantasy and adventure fill every page. In very high demand, British author J.K. Rowling tells her stories in a series, with the fourth Harry Potter book due out just in time for holiday reading.

So bring out the throw-blankets, heat up some cocoa and get ready to read during the holidays. It just might be the best gift you could give a child this time of year.

Editor's note: This is the fourth installment in our monthly series on learning to read in Chesapeake Country.

| Issue 50 |

Volume VII Number 50
December 16-22, 1999
New Bay Times

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