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Children spread the word on literacy via grocery bags Students offer book reviews, art


"You have to feed your brain and your body," said Danny Weaver, a sixth-grader at Sykesville Middle School.

For Danny, books are "brain food."

"Reading gives me something to do," he said.

"Sometimes, I pretend I am a character in my book."

To share his enjoyment, Danny drew his favorite literary character on one side of a grocery bag and wrote a book review on the other.

The bag will be on display at Martin's supermarket in Eldersburg until a clerk sends it home filled with a customer's purchases.

The reading and language arts students all have the option of making bags to promote literacy and earn community service credits.

Children are working to keep the checkout counters well stocked with book reviews, short stories and essays.

About 200 bags are circulating so far, said Marjorie S. Ader, a reading teacher who started the project a few months ago.

"Students earn community service credits for promoting literacy and give others the opportunity to see what books are out there," Ms. Ader said.

Angela Snyder, 12, "published" her Christmas story on a bag "to give people buying groceries a chance to see stories people our age wrote."

Jennifer Koresko, 12, said, "The bags give people something to do while they are waiting to check out."

Katie Kinsey, who prefers reading to television, said she wants to turn everyone on to her favorite pastime.

"You can use your imagination to make pictures from words and feel what something is like instead of just watching it," she said.

Chris Smith, a fan of mysteries and Stephen King tales of horror, recommends, "Read the book before you see the movie."

For Katharine Chapman, 11, reading is more than entertainment. "Many books help children see how people can work out really bad problems," she said.

Jessica Biden, 11, called the project mutually beneficial.

"Kids are asking their parents to shop there," she said.

"Martin's is getting customers and we are getting community service hours."

Jessica sees many book reviews -- for children of all ages -- in her future.

"I read every night and I read to my sister in kindergarten," she said.

Ms. Ader said the project began in reading classes and spread to language arts.

Many children shop with their parents and try to get their own bags, she said.

"These bags will get around and people will know about good books," said Marie Reynolds, a sixth-grade student.

Justin Gardner said he was "really surprised" when he saw his bag -- with a review of an American Indian story -- hanging on the store wall.

"We give people another opinion besides the author's," Justin said.

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