Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 33
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
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Red Umbrella Reading Program Is Fun for Kids — and Grown-Ups

Ellen Gilbert

Sitting under a red umbrella and reading to youngsters at the Mary Moss Park on John Street last week, Township Committeeman Lance Liverman proved to be a man of many talents.

In the first session of the Red Umbrella program sponsored by the Minority Education Committee of the Princeton Regional Schools in cooperation with the Human Services Department and Springboard (the after school tutoring program offered by the Princeton Public Library), Mr. Liverman engaged both younger and older children, and their families, with the story of Lola at the Library.

Not one to stick to the text, he gave a reading of the book that included lots of asides, sound effects, and acting. Extolling the virtues of library-going for young people, he caught himself getting a little carried away when he included “free parking” as one of the perks, adding “but that’s for later when you get older.” He “buzzzzzzzed” people into the library as required by the narrative, and fiercely closed his eyes and did his version of Lola selecting a book by doing “eeny, meeny, miney, moe.” When Lola and her mom had a treat at the end of the book, his “mmmmm” sounded if it he himself was having a taste of the foam from Lola’s mom’s capuccino.

Red Umbrella, which is now in its third year, will continue at Mary Moss Park on August 14, 21, and 28 at 4:30 p.m. with a variety of readers reading in English and Spanish each week. Minority Education Committee Chair Anne Reeves reported that School Superintendent Judy Wilson will be there on the 28th, with other guests, including library staff. Two young people, Imani Holiday and her sister, Tiana, read Spanish translations of More Spaghetti, I Say at last Thursday’s program.

Children and their families enjoy refreshments (last week it was fresh fruit), and get to take home a book of their very own every week. The books are collected from several sources, including individual donors like school board member Walter Bliss, and fund-raising operations like the Bryn Mawr book sale. “I can read it!” exclaimed one delighted youngster last week as she plucked a book from a table.

“I love reading to kids,” said Mr. Liverman, noting that having three children of his own had given him lots of experience. You could tell: reading Silly Sally a little later that afternoon, he did a great impersonation of some snoring sheep.

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