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December 22, 2007

Educational gifts

Great teacher

I enjoyed reading the thoughtful Tribute about William Jewell College professor emeritus of communication Georgia Bessie Bowman “College teacher guided many” (12/18 obituaries) and the letter about “Books make great gifts” that appeared in the Dec. 18 Star Local section.

A great teacher like Georgia is like a good Christmas gift that can last a lifetime.

I was a student who appreciated both communication and writing teachers in 1976-79, during my education at Bonner Springs High School, and then 1979-83 at the University of Kansas. I ended up becoming an adjunct instructor in speech and English at Kansas City Kansas Community College from 1987-2005. And I have been a part-time, freelance sports journalist for more than 25 years. I believe my gifted teachers developed a gifted writer. Both are wonderful blessings to think about this Christmas.

I also think books do make great gifts, especially for children now that so many toys have become problems for families due to the recalls. Today I still enjoy laughing at Dr. Seuss, feeling tenderhearted over Winnie the Pooh, relating to all the Charlie Brown characters and appreciating many old Walt Disney stories. Stories from movies like “Bambi” and “Mary Poppins” I hope never leave the shelves.

Mark Lee
Bonner Springs

Gift of reading

How wonderful to feature the importance of reading to children on the front page! Reading together with your children at bedtime or anytime helps prepare them for success in school. Reading, talking and holding your children nourishes the developing brain, builds vocabulary and encourages self-confidence. Reading together can instill a lifelong love of reading and learning.

You are your child’s first, most important and influential teacher. Taking just 10 minutes from your busy day to explore a book with your child will make a difference. Talk to your kids when you’re riding in the car or shopping. Play and laugh with them, read with your children — enjoy the work of preparing them for lifelong success.

The Family Conservancy is committed to helping families raise children. You will find more tips for championing children’s healthy development by visiting our Web site at www.thefamilyconservancy.org.

Betsy Vander Velde
Executive director, the Family Conservancy



Raising our four children, who now range from 24 to 36, this time of year brought the question "what am I getting for Christmas?" My answer was always educational books. It became a running joke in our home for years. Of course they would always get something current and befitting their age, and I believe they alway ad a good but never extravagent Christmas. But along with the bikes, racecar sets and easy bake ovens they got over the years there was never a Christmas that came that they did not have a book or two under the tree.


Just what our kids need, more fiction in their lives. If you want to educate anyone, pick up titles like "Gangs of America" by Ted Nace. They fail to teach much of this in private or public schools.

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