* This is a reading comprehension exercise for children. It is written by Susan Fineman, a reading specialist in the New Haven, Conn., school district.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The "Reading Wizard," an 11-year-old boy whose offer to volunteer at a local library was rebuffed by librarians, will get to read to younger children after all.

Mayor Willie Brown ordered San Francisco Public Library officials to allow John O'Connor to read to preschool children to get them interested in books and wean them off television and video games.

"I didn't expect this kind of attention," John said. "It's just shocking."

John had selected his first book, "The King's Giraffe," and drafted fliers inviting neighborhood children, ages 3 to 6, to the Presidio branch every Wednesday afternoon. He planned to call himself the "Reading Wizard" and wear a jester's hat, fake spectacles and a black cape.

But his idea was rejected -- on the phone, in person and finally with a letter from Toni Bernardi, the chief of the library system's children and youth services. Using terms such as "age-appropriate material," she wrote that only library personnel are allowed to read to children.

John then went to a member of the city board of supervisors, who advised him to write letters to the library. When Brown saw a story about the boy in the San Francisco Chronicle, he read the riot act to the library bureaucrats.

"Our libraries are supposed to turn kids on, not turn them off," Brown said. "We should be rewarding young people with creative ideas, not discouraging them."

He also invited John to hold his first reading for children at City Hall, saying he applauded "the initiative, the sense of civic responsibility and the caring for others that John clearly has demonstrated."


1. John O'Connor:

a) has never been to a library.

b) writes children's books.

c) is the "Reading Wizard."

2. The 11-year-old asked librarians at his local library for permission to:

a) design fliers for new books.

b) play video games.

c) read stories to young children.

3. John was planning to read:

a) every Wednesday afternoon.

b) while wearing a jester's (clowns's) hat.

c) both a and b.

4. By dressing up as a wizard, the boy probably hoped to:

a) scare the 3-year-olds.

b) get the preschoolers's attention.

c) hide his fake spectacles (eyeglasses).

5. The caring youngster made up fliers to:

a) let the neighbors know about a new TV show.

b) advertise his book, "The King's Giraffe."

c) announce his reading meetings.

6. Library executive Toni Bernardi told John:

a) his idea could not be used.

b) only librarians can read.

c) he needed to buy "age-appropriate material."

7. Mayor Willie Brown:

a) received a call from the Presidio Branch Library.

b) saw a newspaper article about the boy.

c) read a story about a riot.

8. Brown was upset because it seemed as if:

a) librarians were not encouraging children to read.

b) so many young people lacked creativity.

c) he never got rewarded for his ideas.

9. With the mayor's help, the "Reading Wizard" will:

a) have the chance to get children interested in books.

b) land a job at City Hall.

c) teach a class in civic responsibility.

10. The San Francisco volunteer is likely to believe that:

a) working with adults always causes problems.

b) groups of three to six children are best.

c) reading is a worthwhile pastime.

ANSWER KEY: 1. c, 2. c, 3. c, 4. b, 5. c, 6. a, 7. b, 8. a, 9. a, 10. c.