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In our book, they’re all winners

“People just don’t read much anymore.”

It’s a common complaint. Books have gone the way of electronics; TV and its many, many channels have supplanted the solid weight of a book in hand and the sound of a crisp page turning. Children aren’t being taught to delve into the world between the pages, or to use their imaginations to make those worlds come to life.

It might be true for some, but it’s definitely not true for all.

Saturday, the Washington Daily News will host the 27th-annual Downeast Regional Spelling Bee at the Turnage Theatre in downtown Washington, with the help of a long-lasting sponsorship from Nutrien. For the past 26 years, children ages 8 to 14 have been competing for the title of the Downeast spelling champion and the chance to further compete on the national level at Scripps National Spelling Bee held this year in May at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. For this regional bee, these kids are traveling from across eastern North Carolina to pit their spelling skills against those of similar ability, from the Outer Banks to right here at home.

These kids are great spellers — they’ve already won their own schools’ championship, which has sent them to the next level. But something precedes being a great speller, and that’s being a great reader. Spelling comes naturally to these children because they’ve not only seen the letters put together to make a given word, but they’ve read those words in context. They know their meanings. They can use them in a sentence. Maybe they even know their origins.

A love a reading is something every person should pass down to a child in his life. Reading stimulates the imagination and creativity. It teaches comprehension and understanding of different people and different places. It gives children a leg up in their educations. It gives them the tools of communication: words.

Though only one child will walk away a first-place winner in the Downeast Regional Spelling Bee, on our book, they’re all winners — they’re readers.

The Downeast Regional Spelling Bee will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Turnage Theatre. The public is invited at no charge.