Robertsha Mertzger, 5, participates in a magic trick with magician Joe Romano during his show "Books -- The Magic Is Real 2" on June 28 at Burba Lake Cottage. The show kicked off Fort Meade's annual summer reading program sponsored by the Medal of Honor Memorial Library.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - How can you convince a child to read "The Cat In The Hat"? Ask the youngster to wear a Dr. Seuss mask and hat in front of his friends.

It worked on Brandon Bainbridge during the kick-off of the installation's annual summer reading program sponsored by the Medal of Honor Memorial Library.

The 11-year-old was one of several children to participate in "Books -- The Magic Is Real 2," a show created by Joe Romano, a professional magician who uses magic and illusions to encourage youths to read. The show, which attracted more than 200 people, was held June 28 at Burba Lake Cottage.

"It was like magic," said Brandon, who wore the mask and hat while Romano performed a series of magic tricks based on "The Cat in the Hat."

The free reading program, geared for school age children, is held weekly through Aug. 27.

Karen Hayward, the supervisory librarian, said the purpose of the program is to remind children about the importance of reading -- even when they're out of school.

"We want to keep their interest alive," she said.

The theme of this year's program is "A Midsummer Knight's Read."

Storyteller Gary Lloyd will perform Tuesday at 10 a.m. Paul Hadfield will perform as "Spats, The Lost Vaudevillian" on July 26 at 10 a.m.

Kathy Stikes, a library technician and organizer of the summer activities, said although performers are a part of the program, the emphasis is on encouraging children to expand their reading habits.

Librarians distribute reading logs to parents and children throughout the summer. Parents of infants and toddlers are required to read at least three books per week to their children and to record the titles.

Older children are required to read at least 15 minutes every day. Each time a reading assignment on the log is completed, children can color the cartoons on their logs. When all of the cartoons are colored, parents and children can bring the log to the library to win a prize.

Debra Varas, a teacher in the kindergarten program at Child Development Center I, said the summer reading program makes reading appealing.

"It's important for them to get that base, to learn that reading can be fun," she said. "Kids learn through play."

Sheryl Brereton, a child care provider, said she participates in the summer reading program to teach her children how to properly use the library.

"[I want them] to learn how to choose books that they like to read," she said.

Romano, who has performed at Fort Meade for the past three years, is a popular attraction.

"He gets the kids revved up," Hayward said. "Everyone thinks the library has to be quiet. He shows them that the library can be fun and lively."

For more information about the summer reading program, call 301-677-5522.

Page last updated Thu July 7th, 2011 at 00:00