LEARNING TO READ
I've got great news.
I'm learning to read!
I can sound out my letters
Like "sp" "sp" - speed.
It's exciting to learn the
mysteries that hide in a book.
The names of pirates
.. like Captain Hook.
I can unlock the secrets
that are hidden in words.
My mind is set free and
it flies like the birds!
So hop on this Magic Carpet
and see where it leads.
There are worlds to explore
when you learn how to read!
— Written by: Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, Feb. 27, 2011
TRENTON, Ga. — Georgia's first lady, Sandra Deal, made a whirlwind tour of half a dozen elementary schools in Northwest Georgia on Tuesday to promote literacy by reading aloud to students.
"It's exciting to learn the mysteries that hide in a book. The names of pirates, like Captain Hook," Deal told about 50 prekindergartners at Dade Elementary, reciting "Learning to Read," a poem penned by Gov. Nathan Deal.
She then launched into a reading of "Who I'd Like to Be," a children's book written by then-90-year-old Elizabeth Brown and illustrated by the author's 8-year-old great-granddaughter, Alexandria Elizabeth Brown.
The first lady encouraged the 4- and 5-year-olds, bunched together on a rug in the school's media center, to read along and name the animals that she pointed out in the book.
"I'd like to be a turtle," Deal said at one point, pantomiming how a turtle curls up inside its shell.
Practice is key to learning to read, Deal said. It's important for parents to read to their kids, she said, and for kids to read to their parents. Turn off the TV and make time for reading, she advised.
"You have to practice," Deal told the children.
Leigh Ann Beesley, Dade Elementary's director of pre-k and special education, said most of the school's parents read to their kids.
"The majority of them do," Beesley said. "A lot of the teachers do reading logs, so we have verification that they're [reading] at home."
The first lady's visit is a prelude to "Georgia Reads Aloud Day" on March 19. It's meant to encourage parents and other adults to make a special effort to read aloud to children. Classrooms around the state are invited to compete for the "most books read" between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. that day. The winning classroom will get a special visit and a reading from the first lady.
Other area schools that Deal visited Tuesday were Tolbert Elementary School in Resaca, Battlefield Primary School in Fort Oglethorpe, Stone Creek Elementary in Rossville and Davis Elementary School near Trenton.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.