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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
April 3, 2002

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at "Ready to Learn" Event
The East Room

Welcome to the White House for the PBS Ready to Learn celebration featuring some of America's favorite PBS KIDS characters from Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Between the Lions.

I am especially pleased to welcome Mr. Rogers. He's been a part of our family for nearly 20 years.

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When Barbara and Jenna were about a year old, I knew I knew they wanted to watch Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood because they would pound on the television screen and shout "A-dah! A-dah!" which was their word for Mr. Rogers.

Today the East Room is center stage for a very important message: a child's early learning experiences have a direct impact on his or her future and on our nation's future.

We welcome special guests from PBS who will show how children's television can enhance early learning activities -- and how these programs can be a starting point for further education once the television is turned off.

For example, in Mississippi, PBS works with Head Start centers to incorporate children's television and vital language building activities into their daily lessons.

Children need hands-on pre-reading and vocabulary skill building activities, and they need to spend time reading with caring adults.

Before President Bush and I married, we had a couple of theories on raising kids. Now we have a couple of kids and no theories. But we're certain that the stories, songs, and nursery rhymes we read and repeated to our girls helped them learn vital concepts that they used later in school. President George W. Bush and Laura Bush discuss the importance of involving familiesand teachers to help children read at an early age in the East Room Wednesday, April 3. Promoting the Early Childhood Education Initiative, Mrs. Bush is the honorary national chairperson of the PBS Designated Reader campaign. After their remarks, the audience of adults and children were visited by Mister Rogers and Elmo from Sesame Street. White House photo by Evan Parker.

Some of the people in this room fondly remember the songs and rhymes they first learned on shows like Sesame Streetothers, like the children here today, are just beginning to learn them.

I salute PBS for creating educational programs for children, and for creating the new "Designated Reader" campaign that will encourage millions of parents and caring adults to read to young children every day. I am delighted to serve as honorary national chairman.

Now, I'm proud to introduce someone who is devoted to the education of every child in America. Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, the President of the United States, my husband, George Bush.

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