Baltimore County’s students encouraged to join Summer Reading Club


The two most enthusiastic reactions that anyone received from third-graders at Wednesday’s kickoff to the Summer Reading Club were perhaps a measure of how well read the children are.

They applauded when the adults, including BCPS Superintendent Dallas Dance and County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, spoke about the importance of reading – especially over the summer vacation.

But they oohed and ahhed when the giant “Sneaks the Cat” reading mascot appeared at the podium. And when two “Secret Service” agents, both wearing dark suits and sunglasses, brought forward a life-sized cardboard cutout, the students from Owings Mills Elementary School knew exactly who the celebrity was.

No, not President Obama. It was, the students said excitedly, “Flat Stanley,” the well-travelled star of the series of books bearing his name written by Jeff Brown.

The event, held at the just-opened Owings Mills branch of the Baltimore County Public Library system, unofficially marked the start of the county’s Summer Reading Club. Last year, said Library Director Jim Fish, the program drew more than 48,000 participants, an all-time high for the club, which has operated each summer for more than 35 years.

This year, with continuing support from BCPS and its media specialists and principals, the club expects to surpass last year’s record-breaking participation, he added.

The Summer Reading Club officially begins June 17 and ends August 10 and includes four levels of participation for students and children from birth through high school. Wednesday’s group of Owings Mills Elementary third-graders, all wearing yellow “hard hats” in order to “dig” into reading, got a head start when County Executive Kamenetz read from the latest Flat Stanley saga, “The U.S. Capital Commotion.”

That would explain the Secret Service agents.

At the end of the event, each student took home a bag of reading-related material, including copies of the new Flat Stanley book to finish on their own this summer. And they took with them plenty of reminders and encouragement to keep reading over the summer. From Sneaks to Dr. Dance, the message was the same: There’s no better way to spend a summer day than digging into a good book.

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