To promote reading in early education First Lady Sandra Deal made a visit to Max V. Tolbert Elementary School on Tuesday, March 5 to read to the Pre-K and Kindergarten students.
The reading initiative, “Read Across Georgia” is a collaborative idea from Gov. Nathan Deal, First Lady Sandra Deal, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning Commissioner Bobby Cagle and state School Superintendent John Barge.
“We must increase the percentage of children reading well and independently at grade-level because this lays the groundwork for all of their future academic and career endeavors,” Mrs. Deal said. “This past year, I had the opportunity to visit 100 counties and 170 schools emphasizing to parents, teachers and mentors the importance of being proficient in reading. I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish during my Read Across Georgia initiative this year.”
The reading initiative was kicked off Monday, March 4 when Governor Deal and Commissioner Cagle read to Pine Street Elementary School in Conyers. Tolbert was the first stop of the day for the first lady, and according to her assistant Ember Bishop, the plan for the initiative is to visit multiple schools almost everyday of March.
The first lady started with a poem written by Governor Deal, which talks about the importance of reading, and explained to the kids what it meant to be the first lady.
The book is titled, “Who I’d Like to Be,” by Elizabeth Brown, who was 90 years old when she wrote the book with illustrations by her great-grandaughter.
Bishop said AT&T bought the books and the first lady is donating one to each Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher and the library. Tolbert received nine of the books.
The narrator in the book is a little boy who talks about different things he would like to be, but in the end he is happy with being a boy who can dream. The first lady took the opportunity to ask the students what they knew about each character the boy talked about being.
The first lady said she is excited to be reading to the children, “They love it and I love it.”
Sket Angland, Principle of Tolbert Elementary, said she was excited when the governor’s office contacted her and asked if she wanted the first lady to come and read to the students.
“The kids, the teachers, the staff, we were all excited,” Angland said. “Everyone has earned this.”
DECAL will sponsor “Georgia Reads Aloud Day” on Tuesday, March 19 as part of the initiative. On this day, parents, childcare providers and the entire community are encouraged to make a special effort to read to children of all ages. Classrooms are also invited to enter a contest for the “Most Books Read” between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on March 19. The winning classroom will receive a special visit and reading from Mrs. Deal and DECAL Commissioner Bobby Cagle.
“Reading can have a huge impact in the lives of our state’s youngest learners and ‘Read Across Georgia’ and ‘Georgia Reads Aloud Day’ are great ways for everyone to get involved,” said DECAL Commissioner Bobby Cagle. “Both programs support Governor Deal’s goal to have all of Georgia’s children reading on grade level by third grade.”