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Discovering the magic of books

June 25, 2002|By JENNIFER RALTON-SMITH

Staff Writer

Dateline: Holtville

Imperial County librarian Connie Barrington has murder on her mind but without the accompanying complications of a messy corpus delecti.

Monday afternoon at the Holtville Public Library, Barrington kicked off a summer reading program for teens called "Books Are Magic."

Along with group book discussions and recommendations, Barrington is all set to host an interactive murder mystery that goes by the intriguing title of "The Harmony High Prom Murder Mystery."

All the librarian needs is a few more "bodies" for the program.

"Seven teens turned up today for the first session and if I can get at least 10 at next Monday's meeting that will be enough to get the play going," Barrington said.

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Mum as to whether it's the prom queen who bites the dust, Barrington describes the play as, "Just a whole lot of fun for kids who absolutely don't have to be good readers. If they're not good readers that doesn't matter. Everybody gets to choose their own part and participate at a level they're comfortable with."

The teen program meets at 2 p.m. Mondays at the library on Sixth Street in Holtville. Barrington is throwing in a reading contest with prizes to sweeten the deal and anticipates a party at the end of the summer session.

Saying she wants to encourage teens to read more, Barrington explained, "Research shows this is the group where reading tends to drop off. Many children who have been fairly consistent readers in the past tend to stop reading as they get to junior high and high school levels."

Barrington also said that teens have been perceived as having been "under-served" in public libraries until recently. "Traditionally there have been plenty of books and reading programs for younger children and for adults, but not for teens."

The good news according to the librarian is that authors and publishers have produced "A wealth of well-written books dealing with teen issues so it's a great time these days to be a young adult with an interest in reading."

Twelve-year-old Lorenzo Aguirre of Holtville was one of the early sign-ups for the teen program and he made sure he went home with a few of Barrington's suggestions tucked under his arm.

"This book got my attention," the Holtville Middle School student said, holding a copy of Virginia Euwer Wolff's "True Believer," a National Book Award winner. "The title just sounds really interesting I think," Lorenzo said.

The library also is conducting summer reading programs for young children.

While Barrington was busy with her group of teens Monday afternoon, library assistant Lorenza Carpenter read to a group of clearly enthralled youngsters in another corner of the library.

For more information about Imperial County library reading programs this summer, call Barrington at 482-4791.

>> Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or dingo87@earthlink.net

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