Published 12:00 am Monday, June 10, 2013

MT. ULLA – Not every child gets a chance to write a memoir on a sunny Saturday morning.
At Patterson Farm, Saturday’s first Summer Reading Festival gave kids a chance to meet authors and hear them read their stories.
And, amid games and other activities, they could sit beneath a tent and write, decorate and bind their own books.
Judea White, 12, wrote a book on plain paper, with holes in the center of the folded sheet so she could bind the book with a ribbon.
With felt-tip pens, she had written about her life, including a page of descriptions that included “Excellent student,” “Obedient child,” “Good church girl” and “Nice big sister.”
Writing is important, White said. “It helps people know who they really are, and how they feel about something,” she said.
That’s a point that Beth Connell, president of the Altrusa Club of Salisbury, said she hoped the day’s events would make.
Founded in 1938, Connell said part of the club’s mission is to promote literacy and build leadership development skills, particularly for women.
She said the thought in planning a summer reading program was to provide “something that offered an opportunity for outreach to the community, met a recognized need (and) that promoted literacy.”
These days, Connell said, there may be less time spent on reading.
“When times are tough, you don’t spend money to buy your kids books,” Connell said.
“But having a book in hand is so important. The books can become a prized possession,” Connell said.
There was also a cross-cultural appeal.
Blanca Flores, of Salisbury, came to read stories to children in Spanish, including “Los Tres Cerditos” – “The Three Little Pigs.”
“I love helping children learn, especially those of Latino origin,” Flores said, speaking through a translator.
“I always say that, since they’re born into the Spanish language, it’s very important not to forget their language of origin,” Flores said.
Up the hill, in the shade, five children’s authors had their books on display.
Rowan County author Dicy McCullough had a table with some of her books, including “Tired of My Bath” and “Tired of Being a Bully,” on display.
“Any time that you have activities that inspire children and give them memories, that can transition to sitting down with a book,” McCullough said..
She said it was important for kids to have those special experiences, and for parents to share their own – “perhaps a special book from their childhood,” McCullough said.
“I got the ideas for my books from children, because I’d always hear them talk about being tired of things,” McCullough said.
Brenda Barnes showed off copies of “The Highly Electric Lightning Bug,” a story of a family of fireflies being bullied by a bat.
“I hope they take away the fact that reading and books as a part of life,” she said.
“Books are a part of everything we do. Reading is a part of life,” Barnes said.
And, a short distance away, Marty Hartman smiled as he told about his book, “The Adventures of Wally the Wheelchair” – based, he said, on the real-life experience of getting his own wheelchair in Statesville as a boy.
Not only does the book help teach acceptance and understanding of people with disabilities, Hartman said, but also shows “the humor in life in general, the things that can go wrong. You have to learn to laugh.”
A nearby table had information on programs such as Smart Start Rowan, offering educational support to kids and families.
“Reading is fun, and if it’s fun, people will do it,” Connell said. “It’s that simple.”

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.