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Family photo
John Markham, with his father, Reed, shows some of his awards.

Can you read more than a fifth-grader?

If you're going up against John Markham, probably not.

The 11-year-old member of the DeLand 2nd Ward in the DeLand Florida Stake loves to read. He reads one book after another after another — about 15 million words since the fourth grade.

He's read so many books in Scholastic's "Reading Counts" program that he's got several trophies — including two large ones — in his house, plus letters from President Bush, President Clinton and Al Gore praising his reading.

In the program, students sign on to the Web site www.readingcounts.com and select appropriate books based on their interests — including sports, history, animals, science fiction and humor. After they read the book, they take a 10-question test on the site and earn points if they answer eight or more correctly. The program also keeps a running tally of the total number of pages read.

John's interests range from nonfiction books about World War II to "Edge on the Sword," a book based on a true story of a young woman in England who seized power about 1,000 years ago.

His three favorite books so far have been "Eragon" from the Inheritance trilogy; "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"; and The Hardy Boys' "The Tower Treasure." Yes, he likes adventure stories.

But he also reads books related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His father, Reed Markham, who teaches speech communication at Daytona State College in Daytona Beach, Fla., says that when former President Gordon B. Hinckley asked all members to read the Book of Mormon, John jumped right on it.

"He had read the whole Book of Mormon before the rest of the family had read half," said Markham, who grew up in West Jordan, Utah.

And John didn't stop at one time through the book. He's read it five times so far, he says. He also liked the "Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites" and "The Book of Mormon Sleuth" series.

"We all like to read," said John's mother, Lorena Markham. She says her son was reading at age 4 — and hasn't stopped since. They don't watch much TV, she says. She and her husband like to take their children, John, Natalia (age 8) and Annalisa (age 5) to the library every week and to movie theaters and parks.

John also keeps busy with Boy Scouts, computer games (his favorite is "Adventure Quest"), chorus and building elaborate things out of Legos.

But he keeps reading — book after book after book after book.


E-mail: rwalsh@desnews.com