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Published: Friday, 5/7/2004

Taft touts summer reading

BY SANDRA SVOBODA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Gov. Bob Taft spends quality reading time with Anita LaLonde's kindergarten class at Sherman Elementary School in Toledo. The governor promoted reading as a tool for success. Gov. Bob Taft spends quality reading time with Anita LaLonde's kindergarten class at Sherman Elementary School in Toledo. The governor promoted reading as a tool for success.
ALLAN DETRICH Enlarge

Sixth-grader Raymond Saldivar "only" read 15 books last summer, but this year he plans to finish 20, mostly historical nonfiction, his favorite kind of literature.

"Every day I go to the library after school," the Sherman Elementary School pupil said yesterday. "The library can be fun and a good place to learn."

Young Saldivar and the other 641 students at Sherman were cheered on yesterday by Gov. Bob Taft and urged to read for fun during their summer break. He told them how important it is to read.

"If you read, you will succeed in school. You'll go to college, and you'll get a good job. It's so important to read," Mr. Taft said. "Make sure you read some books or when you go home have your mother or father or brother or sister read to you."

The governor visited Toledo yesterday to kick off his annual summer reading challenge with a rally in the packed Sherman gymnasium. If students read 20 books or spend 20 hours reading - and send in the proper forms - they'll receive a certificate signed by Governor Taft.

About 10,000 students received the certificates last year, Mr. Taft said. This year's goal is at least 40,000. The program is funded by a $25,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation.

"Children all over Ohio got that signed reading certificate with the governor's signature on it," Mr. Taft told the supportive crowd. "I hope you will be one of those."

After the reading rally, Mr. Taft visited several classrooms. He quizzed students about the Ohio state bird and, seeing a poster of U.S. presidents including his great-grandfather, William Howard Taft, gave an impromptu history lesson about his relative.

"They had to build an extra big bathtub for him in the White House because he weighed over 300 pounds," he said.

Chris Kozak, spokesman for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, said he appreciated the governor's help in publicizing the importance of summer reading. Since 1942, the library has operated a summer reading club for children, teens, and adults.

"It's intended to enhance and maintain the reading skills the kids learn during the school year so they're not rusty when they come back in August," Mr. Kozak said. "Reading is fun. Summer is an opportunity to read something you want to read."

Last year, 18,177 people participated in the library's summer programs.

"The children really emulate what they see their role models, parents, doing. If they see an adult sitting down to read or read to them, that will make a difference," Mr. Kozak said.

Young Saldivar said he would be spending plenty of time at the library this summer.

"I think I'm going to read 20 books," he said. "Last year, I only read 15."

Contact Sandra Svoboda at:

svoboda@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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