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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 25, 2003

Mrs. Bush's Remarks to NBA Summer Reading Event in Philadelphia
Dimner Beeber Middle School
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Thank you, Emanuel for the great introduction. Principal Jumpp said you were a good reader and I can see that she's right. Thank you, Principal Jumpp, Superintendent Samuels, and all of you for welcoming me to Dimner Beeber School. Summer school just started yesterday, but I already have a pop quiz for you. What do 76ers star Keith Van Horn who is six foot ten and I, barely five foot six, have in common? Any ideas?

The correct answer is that we both love books and we both love to read. And both of us are very excited to be at here to talk to you about the importance of reading. Thank you, Keith for joining us today. I worked as a teacher and a librarian, and I know how important reading is in school and in life. Reading gives you enjoyment throughout your whole life. Of course, as with any other skill, like basketball, the secret to enjoying reading is to practice.

How many of you like to play basketball? What would you do if you wanted to play well like Keith? You might eat a lot of the right foods to help you grow another two feet. And you would practice your three-pointers and foul shots with your friends. You would work really hard to become a better player. You have to do the same thing with reading. You have to read every day to become a better reader. And you'll realize that the more you read the easier reading becomes. When you get good at basketball and nail the three-pointers, you'll want to play all the time. Once you learn to love reading, you'll read throughout your life.

An especially important time to practice reading is during the summer - because it is easy to go on vacation and just watch TV. But never take a vacation from learning. Summer is the perfect time to read fun books that interest you. And if you read as much as you can in the summer, you'll be even more prepared for school in the fall. When I was a teacher and my students came back to school in the fall, I could always tell who had not read during the summer - some almost forgot how to read.

Many of you probably feel that you'll be in school forever. But high school graduation will be here before you know it. And you have to prepare for that day - today. If you start reading and doing your best in school right now, you have a greater chance of accomplishing your goals and making your dreams come true. With anything in life, even basketball, to be a champ on the court, you have to be a champ in the classroom.

The surest way to succeed in school is to become a good reader. And one of the best places to practice reading is in your school or public library. Like basketball, reading isn't easy - it is hard work. But everyone can learn to read and each of you can practice. Go to the library - check out books to take home and read with your mom or dad. Reading to your little brothers and sisters is another good way to practice and a great way to set an example for younger children. Whether you know it or not, someone somewhere looks up to you. It may be your brothers and sisters or younger children in your neighborhood or in school. By reading as much as you can and staying in school, you show them that reading and education are important to succeed in life.

Reading and staying in school have been keys to success for Keith Van Horn. In his six NBA seasons with the New Jersey Nets and the Sixers, Keith has averaged more than 17 points and seven rebounds per game. Keith visits schools across the country in the NBA's "Read To Achieve" Program, and he is excited to be here and to meet all of you. Please welcome Keith Van Horn.


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