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Celebrities Read at Children's Library Event

April 23, 1998|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT

About 35 young boys and girls sat cross-legged on the floor of Camarillo Library on Wednesday morning and listened to stories about art, families and what it's like to be the smallest kid in school.

The youngsters, a local second-grade class and others from a preschool reading group, crowded the library's community room along with 25 parents to participate in a National Library Week program, said Trish Cavanaugh , a spokeswoman for the county's Library Services Agency.

This year's events highlight local celebrities as guest readers. A similar event is planned today at El Rio Library.

In Camarillo, the readers included action film actor Makoto Iwamatsu, Camarillo Councilman Kevin Kildee and Cliff Rodrigues, director of technology and bilingual education for the county's superintendent of schools.

"This was the eighth year for the program and it's always wonderful. This year, the readers shared a little bit of their own culture or a different type of culture and the readings were very impassioned," Cavanaugh said.

Iwamatsu, who has acted in several films, including "Conan the Barbarian" and "Seven Years In Tibet," captivated the kids with an animated reading of "Crow Boy," a book about a Japanese sixth-grade boy teased for being small but who wins over his classmates by imitating crows at a school talent show. The book was written by Iwamatsu's father in 1953.

Rodrigues said he was the one who learned a lesson while reading "Too Many Tamales," the story of a young Latino girl who tries on, and then loses, her mother's wedding ring while helping make tamales during Christmastime.

The girl eats a pile of tamales searching for the missing band and later learns her mother had already found it.

"For me, that's a whole different world doing things with kids that age. It gives me a better understanding of what it's like to teach the lower grades. Those people do magic," Rodrigues said.

Kildee read "Jamaica," the story of an 8-year-old boy growing up in New York City who goes with his grandmother to the subway and decorates dark, dreary walls with his artwork.

"I really enjoyed being there," Kildee said. "It's great that they are interested in reading so early."

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