It's a grand old flag

In July of 1776, a great country

was begun

An amalgum of immigrants

from every country beneath the sun.

The strength of each one's heritage

combined to create the best

so to belittle any immigrant group

is to sadden all the rest.

On the Fourth of July,

let us thank the Lord

we're citizens of this land

with freedom won by toil and truth

and God's footsteps beside ours

in the sand.

|Jack McCloskey, Norristown

United, not divided

America was founded by people who recognized that racial and cultural diversity has a positive effect on a nation. That is why our Constitution begins with the words "We The People." We see the benefits of this in everything, from our courts to our food. When, however, we engage in "othering," we set our minds in a negative direction.

My neighborhood was once all white. Now, it is as culturally and racially diverse as any neighborhood in the Philadelphia area. When you walk down our streets, you will find that every house is well-cared for, every lawn mowed, and neighbors treat each other with dignity and respect.

George Washington's words should be a guiding light for every president: "Precedents are dangerous things. Let the reins of government then be braced in time and held with a steady hand; and every violation of the Constitution be reprehended. If defective, let it be amended, but not suffered to be trampled upon whilst it has an existence."

There is no such thing as an ideal state, but by looking for what binds us - and not what divides us - it can easily be found and promoted.

|K.B. Kofoed, Drexel Hill

Take back our democracy

For decades, the major parties have built blockades to open and fair elections to keep themselves in power. Gerrymandering, closed primaries, limits to ballot access, and other barriers enable the two major parties to pick their voters, instead of the other way around.

Media outlets thrive by emphasizing voices of rage or exuberance. This keeps us divided when it is critical for us to remain united. It is a dangerous distraction from the root of our problem: a stagnant, partisan quagmire that stifles innovative solutions and threatens our democracy. While we fight among ourselves, the two-party system rolls on, sharing power and shirking responsibility.

The system hobbles independent, third-party, and other innovative candidates who threaten the status-quo, limiting the citizen's ability to vote for real change. Our Declaration of Independence dictates that it is the right of the people to alter government. Join those who are working to take back our government.

|Jennifer Bullock, Philadelphia,

Let the words sink in

The way to get children to love reading is to have them listen to the stories being read to them without the reader interrupting and asking questions.

The kindergarten teacher in Wednesday's story, "Educators hit the books," was reading a story about a young chicken that interrupts her father as he tries to read her bedtime stories. The irony is that the teacher interrupted the story by asking a guiding question.

As a retired teacher and grandparent, I feel it is important to not break the mood of a story by asking questions as it is being read.

My three grandsons said what turned them off to reading in school was not being able to absorb a story in their own way. Now, they are older and love reading for the sake of reading.

|Judy Rubin, Philadelphia

Schools need libraries

I support any literacy initiatives in our schools, but I was struck by the irony of the Philadelphia School District's 2017 Early Literacy Summer Institute, in which teachers are taught the best methods to get students to read on grade level.

One of the most basic tools for literacy is a school library, yet the district has eliminated most of its libraries and professional librarians. A full-time, certified librarian in each school would support, on a daily basis, the initiatives taught in these workshops and be a valuable resource to every student. Funding engaging libraries, managed by equally engaged, certified librarians, is a necessary investment for any school district truly committed to literacy.

|Regina Jones, Drexel Hill