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Summer of reading: Area youth read hundreds of books in Thomson-McDuffie County library program

The temperature wasn't the only thing to hit triple digits in McDuffie County this summer. The Summer Reading Program at the Thomson-McDuffie County Library had more than 3,000 participants with six of them reading over 100 books each.

"We get real excited about the number of children who join the reading club. We'd like to double it," said Suzan Harris, the Thomson-McDuffie County librarian and child services coordinator.

Although the program is designed to encourage children to read more, Ms. Harris said there are no incentives or prizes offered for reading a certain number of books.

"It's not a competitive thing. So these that read so many, it's because they love reading," she said. "It's obvious when they read that many books, we know they love reading. And that's what we like to see."

Reading through the summer helps children retain the skills learned in school, according to Ms. Harris."This is a fun way to keep their skills up. Reading is fun," she said.

The summer reading program is funded through donations from local businesses. Ms. Harris said she is already working on booking activities for next year's program. Anyone willing to help may call 706-595-1341.

Sponsors of the 2007 Summer Reading Program were: Friends of the Library, Wal-Mart, Thomson Kiwanis Club, Temple Inland, Inc., Thomson Plastics, Inc., First Bank of Georgia, Bi-Lo, Inc., IGA, Coca-Cola of Augusta, Georgia Public Library Services, WTHO, The McDuffie Mirror and The McDuffie Progress.

Seth Marlowe, 258 books

Although he lives in Columbia County, Seth was the McDuffie County library's top reader this summer. Seth, 8, is physically disabled from Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type One. His nurse, Kathy Buffington, a McDuffie County resident, enrolls Seth in the summer reading program every year. The title of each book Seth read is written on brightly colored paper stars and other shapes adorning the walls of his bedroom.

His handicap prevents him from talking, but Seth has no trouble communicating via the "yes" and "no" buttons attached to the tray on his wheelchair.

"When we read the books, we would talk about them and he would answer the questions with his buttons," Ms. Buffington said. "He loved reading biographies of people. We had to check out Amelia Earhart twice. ... We read every biography that was his level that the library had."

Seth is the son of Mark and Shannon Marlowe and a student at Greenbrier Elementary School. Seth said One Odd Old Owl is another favorite book, along with all those in the Mercer Mayer series.

Haley and Hunter Harrison, 128 books

Haley, 5, is in kindergarten at Maxwell Elementary, and her brother, Hunter, 3, attends preschool at Thomson First United Methodist Church. Haley said Curious George books are her favorite, "because we see him on TV." The children also enjoy reading books that belonged to their father, Blake, when he was young.

"(The Summer Reading Program) is something I did as a child growing up," their mother, Melody, said. "We try to give them books for Christmas and birthdays. And we try to keep their book shelves in their rooms stocked up."

Georgia Kate Kent, 121 books

Georgia Kate's goal was to be one of the top readers in the summer reading program, according to her mother, Khrista. To accomplish this, Georgia Kate said she took books on the family's vacation to the beach. She even read while riding in the car. Her favorite book this summer was Once Upon a Time, The End. Georgia Kate said the book is about a "daddy who makes bedtime stories shorter and shorter. It's funny."

"I like fake books," the 8-year-old said. "Once in a while, I like true ones."

Georgia Kate, the daughter of Dale and Khrista Kent, is in third grade at Thomson Elementary School. She said she enjoyed the puppet shows at the library during the summer. When she isn't reading, Georgia Kate likes to ride her bicycle in the driveway at her grandmother's house.

Maggie Huff, 105 books, and Abbi Huff, 100 books

Abbi and Maggie inherited their love of reading from their grandmother, Mary Lynn Raley. In fact, Abbi, said The Hen Party is the favorite book she read herself, but "all the books my Marmie read to me are my favorite."

"I read three or four books a week myself," Ms. Raley said. "I think (the reading program) is wonderful. I did it with my children... I just love to read. It's very entertaining, educational and relaxing."

Ms. Raley said she would get the girls' books from the library when she got her own books. Abbi, 7, read most of her books herself, except those above her reading level. Ms. Raley read those books to Abbi, along with all of her sister's, Maggie, 3.

Abbi and Maggie are the daughters of Jennifer and Ben Huff. Abbi is in second grade at Dearing Elementary School and Maggie attends the Thomson First United Methodist Preschool.

Web posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007

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