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Getting kids hooked on reading begins with a riveting book

By Kendal Rautzhan

When my daughter was 4 years old, I read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” to her. So entranced with that book, she would beg me to read extra chapters every night until my voice literally gave out. We followed that book with the rest of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” and these were the very books that cemented her love of reading forever.

My daughter, now a senior in college, took “The Chronicles of Narnia” with her to college and, as a reprieve from academics and a return to a happy time in her childhood, was rereading the books.

Convincing a child of the joy of reading begins with exposing them to all kinds of literature, and sooner or later there will be one book in particular that will turn the tide from an interest into a passion. Keep searching; it’s worth the effort.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“Martha Calling” written and illustrated by Susan Meddaugh, Houghton Mifflin Co., 32 pages

Read aloud: age 4-5 and older. Read yourself: age 8 and older.

“Martha was always a talented dog. But when she ate alphabet soup, something truly surprising happened. The letters went up to her brain instead of down to her stomach, and Martha spoke.”

From that moment on, life took on a different twist. Martha spoke to her family members constantly, telling jokes and the like. She also loved to talk on the telephone. In fact, one day when her favorite radio station announced a contest, Martha was the first caller to respond with the correct answer.

She had won the grand prize – a free weekend for four at the Cozy Come-On-Inn. Everyone was thrilled until the official notice came in the mail, clearly stating: ‘No Dogs Allowed.’

A highly entertaining, comical story with a satisfying solution to Martha’s dilemma, this is one book that children will clamor to read many times over.

Librarian’s Choice

Library: Douglas County Public Library, 1625 Library Lane, Minden

Library Director: Linda Deacy

Youth Services Librarian: Kathy Echavarria

Choices this week: “The Napping House” by Audrey Wood; “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper; “Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism” by Georgia Byng

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“The Last River: John Wesley Powell & The Colorado River Exploring Expedition” by Stuart Waldman, illustrated by Gregory Manchess, Makaya Press (ISBN # 1-931414-09-2), 2005, 45 pages, $19.95 hardcover

Read aloud: age 7 and older. Read yourself: age 8Ð9 and older.

In May, 1869, 10 men boarded four row boats in Green River City, Wyoming. Their goal was to explore the Colorado River – the only river in the United States that had yet to be navigated.

That was for good reason: the Colorado River flowed for hundreds of miles through treacherous rapids and whirlpools, huge waves and jagged rocks, all through inaccessible canyons that were “so deep they were shrouded in darkness.”

The leader of the expedition was John Wesley Powell, a college science professor who had lost one arm in the Civil War. Few believed that Powell and his men would succeed. But three thousand miles later, with only two boats remaining, Powell and five of his men emerged from the Grand Canyon, having accomplished what they set out to do.

First rate in every regard, this extraordinary true story is brought to life by Waldman’s exciting text and Manchess’ vivid illustrations.

“The Red Judge” by Pauline Fiske, Bloomsbury, 2005, 202 pages, $16.95 hardcover. Read aloud: age 9Ð10 and older. Read yourself: age 9Ð10 and older.

Zed has never felt happy with his stepfamily. When Zed looses a bet with his sister, things turn disastrous and Zed’s stepfather banishes him to the abandoned house of his Welsh grandmother. It is there that Zed becomes convinced that the Welsh myth of the red judge is more than a myth – it is real, and the red judge is after him. As Zed tries to make his way back home by dogsled across the snowy mountains of Wales, the red judge is closing in on him.

A brilliant mix of myth, magic, and fantasy, this thrilling tale will have readers on the edge of their seats.

— Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature and can be reached by e-mail at kendal@sunlink.net