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March 2, 2005

First Lady Patti Blagojevich Celebrates National Read Across America Day and the Birthday of Dr. Seuss
First Lady selects “Charlotte’s Web” by E. B. White as the March book selection for the Children’s Reading Club

SKOKIE- First Lady Patti Blagojevich celebrated National Read Across America Day today with the announcement of Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White as her March book selection for the Children’s Reading Club.
The Children’s Reading Club is a recommended reading list made up of books the First Lady and her daughters enjoy at home. The First Lady launched this literacy initiative program last month, selecting The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo as February’s featured book.  Each month’s book selection will be featured on the First Lady’s website, http://www.illinois.gov/firstlady
Mrs. Blagojevich began the Children’s Reading Club to encourage parents to read with their children and hopes the recommended list will enable parents to find books the whole family can enjoy. The Children’s Reading Club applies to all children, but specifically targets children between the ages of seven and twelve.
“As a parent, I know the difference reading with your children can make on both their mental and emotional development,” said Mrs. Blagojevich. “Most people understand the importance of reading to young children, but may not be as focused on the need to continue reading to children once they begin attending school and learn to read on their own. I launched the Children’s Reading Club to encourage parents to continue toread with their children, and believe the recommended reading list features books that are as appealing to parents as they are to children. There is no better day to sit down with your family and open a book than today, National Read Across America Day.”
National Read Across America Day is a yearly celebration culminating on March 2nd, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. The day serves to emphasize the importance of reading and learning in America. Sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and Dr. Seuss Enterprises, National Read Across America Day encourages children to get excited about reading. The Day serves to shine a spotlight on the joys, as well as the necessity, of literacy and reading.
The Children’s Reading Club March selection, Charlotte’s Web, is a winner of the 1953 Newberry Honor Award and the 1970 Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal. It tells the magical tale of an affectionate yet bashful pig named Wilbur who is separated from his family and sent to live on a farm. At first Wilbur is confused and scared by the other animals, but he soon meets a new friend named Charlotte. Charlotte is a large gray spider who helps Wilbur overcome his loneliness and homesickness. She befriends Wilbur and helps him deal with shocking news when the animals learn that Wilbur is to be cooked for dinner. Most importantly, Charlotte shows Wilbur the meaning of true friendship when she enlists the other animals on the farm to work together to create a plan to save Wilbur’s life.
E. B. White’s tale is important because it teaches readers what it means to be a true friend, and that true friendships last forever. Charlotte’s Web depicts friendship and protection, adventure and miracle, life and death, trust and betrayal, and the wonders of nature with a sensitivity and humor that is engaging to both parents and children. Not only does the powerful, yet charming writing of E. B. White draw readers into the story of Wilbur’s struggle, but his vivid descriptions create an delightful picture that readers of all ages will enjoy.
As First Lady, Patti Blagojevich has worked tirelessly to promote initiatives that help Illinois families bring up happy, healthy, and successful children.  In addition to her work with children’s literacy, the First Lady served on the Department of Children and Family Services Task Force, where she helped create a blueprint to reform the agency.  Mrs. Blagojevich also worked to promote the Prevention Development Resource Project -- a partnership between DCFS and Prevent Child Abuse Illinois -- that links parents with agencies that offer services to those affected by substance abuse and domestic violence, or who need other family support services.  Most recently, the First Lady was honored by ORBIS International for spearheading the Illinois Pediatric Vision Awareness Initiative, the first state sponsored campaign in the U.S. to specifically target Amblyopia, or lazy eye, in children. 
The First Lady announced the Children’s Reading Club March book recommendation at elementary schools in Skokie and Northbrook today, where she read selections from both the writing of Dr. Seuss and Charlotte’s Web to students.


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