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Georgia's First Lady Reads to Kids as Part of Summer Reading Program Contest

Sandra Dea; stopped by the Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library to read to kids as part of a summer reading sweepstakes.

Georgia’s First Lady, Sandra Deal, visited the on May 12 to read to preschoolers from Decatur’s Phoenix School as part of a contest sponsored by the Georgia Public Library Service and the Path2College 529 Plan.

Deal read Mortimer’s First Garden by Karma Wilson, a picture book about a sunflower seed-loving mouse who learns that, instead of eating the seeds, he can plant them and reap the benefits later. Mortimer’s First Garden was selected from the library’s collection.

Deal, a mother, grandmother and former teacher, emphasized the importance of reading, using the library and saving money for college. She told the children about how her mother instilled in her a love of reading and how she taught her son, Hall County drug court Judge Jason Deal, to enjoy reading too.

As a child, he had some difficulty learning to read, which inspired her to go back to school and take the classes needed to become a teacher. She also instituted a strict no-TV policy for the entire family until Jason’s reading skills improved, a move that surprised some in the audience.

After reading to the children, Deal talked with them about their plans for the future. Children named potential career paths as diverse as ballet dancing, medicine and working at both Publix and Kroger. She hoped that some of the kids would go into teaching or library science.

“I’m always for helping children prepare for the future because they are our future,” Deal said. “Training children [to read] at an early age is very important.” She also emphasized parental involvement in teaching children how to love reading.

This event kicked off the 2011 Destination College Savings Sweepstakes in association with the One World, Many Stories summer reading program. When kids sign up for the reading program at their local library, they also receive information about entering the sweepstakes, which is done online.

The sweepstakes winner will receive $5,529 towards a Path2College 529 Plan and the winner’s home library will get $1,529 as well. The two libraries with the most entries and with the largest percentage of library card holders entered also receive $1,529.

Alison Weissinger, director of DeKalb County Public Libraries, said that last year, DeKalb won the prize for having the largest percentage of library card holders participate.

The event was sponsored by the Path2College 529 Plan, a state program that helps families save money for college. 529 plan earnings are usable at almost any college or university in the country. Earnings used for higher education expenses like tuition, books and fees and income tax free.

For more information about Path2College 529 Plan, visit www.path2college529.com.

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