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Published: Thursday, 7/28/2005

A penalty with rewards

WOOD County Common Pleas Court Judge Alan Mayberry found a way to issue a penalty and accomplish an important activity at the same time. Rather than sentence a young mother convicted of obstructing justice in a drug trafficking case to perform a community service such as picking up litter, he ordered her to spend 200 hours reading with her children. That will be far more valuable.

Throughout decades of education reform, no one has ever doubted the importance of parents reading to their children. The teachers' mantra seems to fall on deaf ears for many parents, who oddly enough, always complain that they don't have enough quality time with their children.

Judge Mayberry decided to do something about that when he told a Perrysburg Township mother of a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old that she had to spend her sentence reading to them and having them read to her.

Married to an elementary school teacher, Judge Mayberry hears first-hand teachers' lament that parents don't spend enough time reading with their children. He pondered how to sentence parents convicted of some crimes to read to their children. In doing so, he won the support of the adult probation department as well as the Wood County District Public Library.

The sentence won't take place in the woman's home where she might be tempted to fudge on the hours whenever she or the children are too tired to read. She must perform her penalty at a local library, under the watchful eye of library staff who are already on board to help choose age-appropriate books and to verify the time they spend reading to each other. The win-win situation will expose the children to more positive activities than drug-trafficking, as the judge said.

Judge Mayberry has our support. Picking up litter is important, but there will always be more of it out there. In far less supply in too many households is the bond fostered between parent and child by reading together.

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