Where did you go to read when the summer turned hot, you had nowhere to go, your friends were all away on road trips to Yellowstone or spending their afternoons at some swanky pool, and your back bike tire caught a thorn in a vacant lot and went as irrevocably flat as a Coke left out in the sun? When I was a kid, it was the basement, a cool, dank, unfinished affair filled with old furniture, tools and family relics. I favored an ancient recliner stored there with its stuffing coming out, with Walter Farley's Black Stallion novels and a cold glass of raspberry lemonade -- but everyone has a treehouse or an old oak tree in their past, where the pages just seemed to turn more smoothly, regardless of the subject matter. It makes one wonder why any child would needan incentive to read all summer long, but if yours does, the Denver Public Library's got several: Children participating in its Catch the Reading Bug summer reading program, today through August 9, can bag various free tickets, coupons and even books, just by reading. Drop by your local branch, log on to www. summerofreading.org or call 720-865-1306 for details. -- Susan Froyd
Kids Bring Their Culture SUN, 6/8
Don't know what that means? Find out at today's free performance of At Home In a New Land, a show put on by Youngsters From the Science, Art and Sport Center for Children, an after-school program for Russian youth run by the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center.
The show, staged this afternoon at 1 p.m. at the University of Denver's Newman Center, 2344 East Iliff Avenue, gives Russian kids ages three to eighteen a showcase for their rendition of world culture through dance and song -- all done in Russian.
"It's quite indescribable," says the JCC's Robin Perera. "It's fascinating to watch, even if you don't understand what they're saying."
For more information, call 303-316-6382. Julie Dunn
Little Sluggers TUES, 6/10
Don't be alarmed if you see a guy spying on a group of kids at Wheat Ridge's Prospect Park at 9 this morning. It just might be a scout from the Rockies, looking for a hot prospect among the participants at the Colorado Rockies Baseball Skills Challenge. The team could use some new pitching talent.
While it's unlikely that any of the six- to thirteen-year-old contestants in today's pitching, hitting and running events will soon join the Rockies' lineup, they do have a chance to make it onto Coors Field for the competition finals on August 24.
"We usually get forty or so kids in the different categories, in four age groups," says Jim Spaulding, athletics supervisor for the Wheat Ridge Department of Parks and Recreation, one of many agencies holding trials around the state. "The top three finishers in each division get ribbons." Winners go on to sectionals and a chance to make it to Coors Field. But "every kid gets a Rockies certificate," Spaulding adds. "And the good thing is that it's free."
Would-be Heltons and Chacons should register in advance at 303-231-1300 before coming to the diamond at 44th Avenue and Robb Street in Wheat Ridge. A mouthful of bubble gum is optional. -- Ernie Tucker