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Tennessee’s first lady makes pledge to students

Tennessee’s first lady makes pledge to students
Tennessee’s first lady makes pledge to students | Tennessee’s first lady makes pledge to students
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam has made a pledge.
She wants children across the state to do the same by pledging to read for at least 20 minutes a day.
Mrs. Haslam visited Union City Elementary School Tuesday afternoon to read to third-graders during her third and final visit there this school year.
She had announced in May 2011 that she would partner with 10 schools across Tennessee — including Union City Elementary — to focus on improving literacy rates. She promised to visit several times throughout the school year and to meet with school administrators and families regarding parent engagement, as well as to promote the Read 20 message with students by reading with them and delivering books.
The nationwide Read 20 initiative is dedicated to creating a strong community of readers by promoting the importance of reading with children at least 20 minutes or more every day.
In addition to promoting Read 20, Mrs. Haslam is passionate about getting parents involved in their children’s educations and encouraging families to read.
She visited the UCES third-graders in September 2011 and had visited them in May 2011.
Mrs. Haslam started her visit Tuesday afternoon in the school library by asking the third-graders how many of them have tried to read at least 20 minutes a day. They responded with an overwhelming show of raised hands.
She asked them what types of books they like to read, with their dozens of responses ranging from Dr. Seuss, Beverly Cleary and Junie B. Jones books to mysteries, fairy tales and sports-themed books.
“You all have such great ideas,” Mrs. Haslam said.
She encouraged the children to visit their public library this summer and   not to get so busy with summer fun that they forget to read.
She also suggested the children could ask their parents if they can stay up late 20 minutes each night if they promise to spend the time reading.
Mrs. Haslam announced she has started the First Lady’s Book Club, which will introduce the children to a new book each month and will allow interaction through a website listed on bookmarks she provided them.
She told the students that only the 10 partner schools across the state know the first book in the club and she let them in on the secret as she read two chapters from the first book, “Frindle,” a 1996 children’s novel by Andrew Clements.
Afterward, she fielded questions from the students, many of whom asked about her husband, Gov. Bill Haslam.
In responding to questions about jobs and money, she emphasized the importance of the students being strong readers as they approach middle school and then go on to high school, college or some other post-secondary education before entering the workforce.
“You’re reading to learn,” she said.
She encouraged the children always to keep reading — whether it’s alone or with a grandparent or by reading to a sibling.
“I’ve loved being able to come to your school two or three times this year,” Mrs. Haslam said. “I’m really proud of you.”
Published in The Messenger 5.16.12

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