Books And Baseball

7/17/2007 – Daily News Record

Turks Read To Children Written By Heather Bowser Harrisonburg Turks relief pitcher Chase Sonen of Chicago reads to children at the Massanutten Regional Library in Harrisonburg Monday. Sonen’s visit was part of the library’s "Marvelous Mondays at Main" program geared to make reading fun for youngsters. Photo by Thomas J. Turney HARRISONBURG — Two Harrisonburg Turks scored a home run with 70 elementary-aged children. On Monday afternoon, Andrew Franco, a 22-year-old catcher from Destin, Fla., and Chase Sonen a 21-year-old relief pitcher from Chicago, took turns reading baseball stories to the children and their parents in the Massanutten Regional Library Main Branch. Dressed in their uniforms, the players read "Playing Right Field" by Willy Welch, and "Zachary’s Ball" by Matt Tavares, while the children sat cross-legged on the carpet, enthralled. "Playing right field, it’s easy, you know. You can be awkward and you can be slow. That’s why I’m here in right field, just watching the dandelions grow," read Sonen from "Playing Right Field." The Turks’ visit was part the library’s summer reading program, "Marvelous Mondays at Main," said Stephanie Bush, children’s librarian. The program is geared to make reading fun and encourage kids to pick up a book. "When they come to the library, you want them to have a positive experience, no matter what," Bush said. The Program And it’s working. For the last two months, nearly 50 children have flocked to the library to listen to stories from special guests, like the Turks, and make crafts. So far this summer, kids have made journals, pirate eye patches, twig picture frames and painted rocks. Next week, the library will host a Harry Potter party, celebrating the final installment of the series, and on Aug. 8, they’ll wrap up the program with a party. "We have a great time," Bush said. "The kids have so much fun." About 15,000 youngsters in Harrisonburg and Rockingham and Page counties own a library card, said Mary Golden-Hughes, library spokeswoman. Of the 761,000 items checked out last year, 302 were children’s items. "Kids are reading here," Golden-Hughes Sports Stars And, apparently, so are baseball players. After Monday’s story time, the children flocked around the players like groupies at a concert. Sonen and Franco signed their bookmarks and baseballs, inquiring of their hobbies, reading habits and love of baseball. "Being on the field, that’s the best part of my day," Franco said. His companion agreed. "It’s all a matter of the heart," said Sonen. "Believe in yourself, that’s all that matters. All you need is a ball, a couple gloves a few friends and a backyard." After the game, all you need is a book.