Elementary school children in the Salt Lake area are getting the opportunity this week to experience the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' unique "Ringling Readers" motivational reading program.

This nationwide program, designed to encourage children to read, features Kevin the Circus Clown visiting six Salt Lake Valley elementary schools to present this year's theme, "Reading Lets You Imagine." Kevin's all-new 25-minute live presentation takes children on a magical tour through time with a specially designed "imagination time machine" that allows children to stop in the past and present to discover through books how life was in days gone by and how it might look in the future.Each youngster who attends the program will receive the latest edition of The Ringling Reporter, an eight-page newspaper containing stories about the circus. Each story was written and edited especially for children by Reading Is Fundamental, a national, nonprofit organization founded to promote reading.

Kevin, a graduate of the circus' famous Clown College, said "Through our program, we hope to encourage kids to develop their imaginations and create a renewed enthusiasm for reading."

On Monday, Kevin visited classes at Backman Elementary, 1450 W. Sixth North, and Dilworth Elementary, 1953 S. 21st East. On Tuesday his schedule included Bennion Elementary, 429 S. Eighth East, and Pioneer Elementary, 3860 S. 3380 West, West Valley City.

On Wednesday, he'll visit Mrs. Gonnuscio's class at 10 a.m. (Jackson Elementary, 750 W. Secnd North), and at 1:30 p.m. he'll make his final Salt Lake City stop with Sister Alice's class at St. Anne's Elementary School, 430 E. 21st South.

The Ringling Reporter is packed with interesting facts about the circus (did you know that elephants will eat peanuts, but they like apples even better . . . or that polar bears are left-handed), along with short stories about circus animals, the "funny business of clowning," an activity page with riddles and fill-in-the-blank puzzles, a brief look at life with the circus, and a page for parents, listing several Reading Is Fundamental booklets and brochures available.

While the Ringling Readers program is available only to those classes the Ringling Bros. clown visits each year, the RIF material is available nationwide.

Booklets, which cost $1 each, include: "Reading is Fun: Tips for Parents of Children Age Birth to 8 Years," and "Children's Bookshelf: A Parent's Guide to Choosing Good Books" (a book list with descriptions).

Brochures, priced at 50 cents each, include: "Upbeat and Offbeat Activities to Encourage Reading," "TV and Reading," "Reading Aloud to Your Children" and "Choosing Good Books for Your Children: Infancy to Age 12."

To order any of these booklets and/or brochures, or for more information, write to:

RIF

Dept. RRR

600 Maryland Ave. SW, Suite 500

Washington, DC 20024