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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 1, 2001

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Reach Out and Read Event In Boston
As Delivered
Boston, Massachusetts

Thank you. I'm thrilled to be in Boston.

Before I begin, I want to say that the President and I are deeply saddened by Congressman Moakley's death. He was a distinguished congressman and American veteran, and he served his state and country well.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Congressman Moakley's family, friends and supporters.

Dr. Klass, Dr. Zuckerman … I congratulate you and your colleagues for your pioneering work at the Boston Medical Center and with Reach Out and Read.

I join you also in recognizing Dr. Brazelton, a talented pediatrician who truly deserves tonight's honor.

Thank you for your dedication to the good health and the bright future of America's children.

As these and other experts will show over the course of this conference, reading to babies - and reading together as a family -- have tremendous, far-reaching results.

Children who are read to learn two things: First, that reading is worthwhile, and second, that they are worthwhile. The most important result of reading together, though, is that it builds a strong foundation for reading and learning later in life.

With that in mind, I recently launched an initiative called Ready to Read, Ready to Learn. Part of that initiative includes working with programs such as Reach Out and Read.

Reach Out and Read is a great way for doctors to help families and parents understand how important it is to read to their babies.

Doctors tell young parents that, just as the human touch fosters physical and emotional growth in babies, reading to babies also benefits a baby's brain and emotional development.

The effort is a success in part because parents trust and respect their pediatricians. It is also a success because doctors have a chance to identify reading problems early, when they are easier to remedy.

One example comes from a Texas pediatrician's experience. She gave her very first prescription for reading to a mother who brought in her son for asthma. She outlined the prescription for reading and started to show the mother how to hold her baby and the book while reading.

After a few minutes, the baby's mother finally leaned over and whispered, "I can't read".

The doctor referred the mother to a local literacy provider that partners with Reach Out and Read so she could learn how to read to her child and read the labels on her child's asthma medication.

What an opportunity -- to improve a mother's life and break a cycle that would limit her child's chances for success!

I'm proud to support to Reach Out and Read's further development throughout the United States.

I consider it a great opportunity to continue doing what I love - to help others experience the joy and benefits of reading with children, and to make sure that more children have the chance to succeed in school and in life.

I want to thank all of you for making sure children grow up healthy and ready to read and succeed in life.

As I encourage all Americans to support this worthwhile program, I especially want to challenge all of you here this weekend to do what you can to help Reach Out and Read continue to succeed. The program needs your enthusiastic participation and expertise. More importantly, though: the children need more than this program's development; they need your love and care for their development.

Thank you for supporting Reach Out and Read. I believe in this effort, and I am glad that you do, too.

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