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March 2, 2006

First Lady Patti Blagojevich celebrates National Read Across America Day and the Birthday of Dr. Seuss
First Lady encourages parents to start reading to their children as early as possible as a way to positively impact their mental and emotional development of children

CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today celebrated the National Read Across America Day, by reading excerpts from a Dr. Seuss’ book to elementary school children and highlighting the positive impact early reading has on the development of children.
“Reading with your children can have a huge and positive impact on both their mental and emotional development,” said Mrs. Blagojevich at the Thomas J. Water Elementary School on the Northside of Chicago. “It is extremely important to continue to read to children once they begin attending school and after they learn to read on their own. Today, on National Read Across America Day, I encourage all parents to make an extra effort to sit down with their families and enjoy sharing a book.”
At the school, the First Lady read excerpts from Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go as schools and other educational institutions across the country celebrate of National Read Across America Say, which coincides with the birthday of the late, internationally acclaimed children’s books author Theodor Seuss Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss.
Mrs. Blagojevich also announced that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, part of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia is the March, 2006 selection for her 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 in February of 2005, and has selected books such as Charlotte’s Web, Harriet the Spy, and Maniac Magee for the recommended list.  Each month’s book selection is 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.
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, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is the second book in the seven book series “The Chronicles of Narnia”.  It tells the magical tale of the Pevensie children who, during World War II, are sent by their parents to live with their uncle in the English countryside for safety reasons.  While the children explore their new home, Lucy, the youngest of the four children, climbs into a wardrobe and discovers a magical land called Narnia.  When Lucy goes back through the wardrobe and returns to reality, she tells her siblings about Narnia, but none of them believe her- that is until they experience Narnia themselves. 
Narnia is under the control of the evil White Witch who put a spell on the land, making winter all year long.  All who question the Witch’s authority are turned into stone.  But there may be hope for the citizens of Narnia; Aslan, the Great Lion and the true ruler of Narnia, who has been gone for many years, may return to the land.  If Aslan returns and can overcome the dark magic of the White Witch, the people of Narnia could be saved and the land’s beauty and peace that was once there, could be restored.  The Pevensie children experience the adventure of a lifetime when they enter the wardrobe, which affects their lives forever.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a magical, mysterious, and suspenseful novel that is engaging to both parents and children.  Not only does the powerful, yet charming writing of C.S. Lewis draws readers into the story of the Pevensie children’s adventures, but his vivid descriptions create a 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 spearheaded the Illinois Pediatric Vision Awareness Initiative, the first state sponsored campaign in the U.S. to specifically target Amblyopia, or ‘lazy eye’, in children.  Mrs. Blagojevich has also brought attention to Healthy Families Illinois, a program that helps prevent child abuse by supporting high-risk parents.  In addition, she has promoted the Prevention Development Resource Project, a partnership between the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, and the Governor’s landmark All Kids plan, which makes Illinois the only state in the nation to provide affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every uninsured child in the state. 


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