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FOR KIDS : Holiday Word Play : Shari Sack, who reads aloud on Saturdays at Pages Books, will have a special program for Hanukkah.

November 18, 1994|HEATHER W. MORGAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Heather W. Morgan is a regular contributor to The Times.

TARZANA — Growing up in an Irish-Catholic home, young Mary Elizabeth never would have dreamed that exposing her son to stories about Hanukkah would be important to her. The "miracle of lights" was meaningless, until she married her husband, David, and became Beth Abramson a decade ago.

"Life can really throw you a curveball. Neither one of us want to thrust our religion onto our son, yet we want to give him an understanding of both. It's a tricky business," said Abramson, of Pacific Palisades.

"Last year, a friend told me about Pages Books, where they offer a story time for both (Christmas and Hanukkah)," she said. Abramson took her 4-year-old, Josh, to the Hanukkah reading, and called it "a wonderful experience."

This year, storyteller Shari Sack will present "Lights, Latkes and Love" at 11 a.m., Nov. 26, at Pages Books for Children and Young Adults in Tarzana. The readings and activities that follow are geared to children from ages 3 to 8.

"We are lucky to have her talents," said Darlene Daniel, owner of Pages. "Shari glows when she works. She has a natural ability to engage the children's interest, then take it a step further. She helps them connect the stories to their lives."

Sack has been the regular Saturday storyteller for six years. With a passion for books and oral interpretation, she attended Cal State Northridge, intending to become a trial lawyer but opting to pursue a career in restaurant management, before she married and started a family.

It wasn't until her daughter, now 10, began kindergarten that she came upon her true calling.

"Right from the beginning, reading to my children was a tremendous part of my life," said Sack, who also has a 7-year-old son. "When my daughter started school, the teacher allowed me to come in and read aloud. I loved it as much as the kids. I started developing a style."

Sack's affiliation with Pages has enabled her to perfect her craft. Each week, the store provides her with a theme and the materials.

"Reading or telling a story is a profoundly personal experience. It's so much more than flatly repeating words. It's patterns and repetitions and something kids can keep forever," said Sack, who is living in Encino while earthquake repairs are being done on her Northridge home.

As in years past, this Hanukkah story time will present books that focus on the joys of celebrating family cultural traditions--the making of latkes (potato pancakes), lighting of the menorah and playing dreidel games.

Sack will read such stories as Eric Kimmel's "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins," Jane Breskin Zalben's "Papa's Latkes," Malka Penn's "The Miracle of Potato Latkes" and Leslie Kimmelman's "Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Nights."

"I really learned that the story of Hanukkah is indeed a beautiful one," said Abramson, who plans on attending the story time again this year. "It's so universal. It's about bad triumphing over good. It's about a miracle."

WHERE AND WHEN

What: "Lights, Latkes and Love," a reading of Hanukkah stories.

Location: Pages Books for Children and Young Adults, 18399 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana.

Hours: 11 a.m., Nov. 26.

Price: Free, with a $3 activity fee for materials that can be applied to any purchase throughout the day.

Also: "Trim the Tree and Sing a Song for Santa" at 11 a.m., Dec. 17.

Call: (818) 342-6657.

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