Pupils end contest at 20,700-book mark; Dedication: Led by a first-grader's 1,062-book effort, Reisterstown Elementary pupils and parents celebrate their love of literacy after participating in the state's reading program.

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Kevin Hollander likes to read. A lot.

When his elementary school signed up for the governor's second annual Reading Across Maryland competition, the first-grader decided he was going to do everything he could to help his school.

By the time the competition ended last week at Reisterstown Elementary School, the 7-year-old had done just that, reading 1,062 books over six months -- an average of more than five books a day.

"I like to read scary books the most," Kevin says. "Sometimes I read with my mom or my dad, but I like reading by myself the most. Once, I read 40 books in one day."

Kevin was honored Thursdayat Reisterstown as the 587-pupil school celebrated the end of the contest. Pupils at the school read about 20,700 books.

"It is such a wonderful accomplishment to read that many books this year," said Linda S. Thompson, secretary of the Governor's Subcabinet for Children, Youth, & Families, who gave Kevin a handshake and a hug.

Thompson and A. Skipp Sanders, Maryland's deputy state schools superintendent, joined Reisterstown for the celebration in the school's gymnasium, which was packed with pupils, parents and teachers cheering for the accomplishments of the top readers.

Schools in every Maryland system have been participating in the state's effort to encourage children to read. All students who participate receive bookmarks, and the state will honor the schools tallying the most books read in each of its five regions.

Neither the number of participating schools nor the winning schools will be known until next month, after the results are tabulated. Last year, more than 300,000 students participated and received certificates for reading at least 10 books.

Pupils or their parents must keep lists of how many books have been read since Oct. 1 -- and Kevin's father, Bob Hollander, jokes that he deserves a prize for writing down the titles and authors of more than 1,000 books.

The contest does not end until Wednesday, but Reisterstown celebrated last week because Baltimore County schools are on vacation this week.

"It was wonderful to see so many children reading," said Beverly Sagal, Reisterstown's reading specialist.

In kindergarten, Samuel and Dallas Boodhoo captured the prize for reading the most books -- something the twins did together, seated on either side of mom or dad.

"They love sitting with me on the sofa and reading," said their mother, Diana Boodhoo. "Usually, one is on each side, but sometimes they fight over my lap."

In addition to Samuel, Dallas and Kevin, the other top winners at Reisterstown were second-grader Samantha Holzman, third-grader Halley Epstein, fourth-grader Kelly Goldberg and fifth-grader Lauren Lantner.

"I would read books even if we didn't have this contest," said Halley, 8, who tallied 210 books. "But it was fun to have an extra reason to read a lot."

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