The Stars Come Out for Let’s Read! Let’s Move!

Let's Read event at ED HeadquartersThe fourth installment of the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series at the U.S. Department of Education brought out the stars last week as Secretary Arne Duncan joined Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, the NBA’s Jeremy Lin, former NFL player Brian Mitchell, Actor Hill Harper and DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier. Our special guests spent the afternoon reading and participating in fun physical activities with young learners from the local DC area. Watch our video highlights of the event:


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You can also check out this an article about last week’s event from The Washington Post.

The last installment of this summer’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series will take place tomorrow, August 6, and will include Drew and Jonathan Scott. The events are part of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer enrichment series, which engages children in summer reading and physical activity over the summer months, and promotes healthy eating habits.

Adam Sperry is a student at New York University and a current intern in the Office of Communication & Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

Shooting for the Stars: Let’s Read! Let’s Move!

LRLMnasa1The third installment of the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series at the Department of Education took kids’ imaginations all the way to the moon and back this week with space-themed activities and a strong focus on STEM. The event was part of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer enrichment series, which engages children in summer reading and physical activity over the summer months, and promotes healthy eating habits.

Thanks to NASA, educators from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan, the children received a special opportunity to “Train like an Astronaut” through core strength exercises, and learned about the solar system through an interactive “mission to space” dance.

Hagan, along with Secretary Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and two-time space shuttle astronaut, George Zamka,  joined forces to read Pluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery to a room of eager young learners. Zamka told the children that Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man” was only achieved through a series of preceding little steps, like working extra hard on homework.

LRLMnasa2The Let’s Move! portion of the afternoon, carried out with the help of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington, included a “Shooting Stars Jumbo Jam,” “Comet Blast Relay,” and food tasting station with healthy star fruit. At the end of the active afternoon, children were encouraged to keep their minds active as well, by taking home a new book and book bag, courtesy of Target.

The last two installments of this summer’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series will take place on August 1 and 6. Each event supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, dedicated to promoting healthy eating and an active lifestyle, while also encouraging strong early learning programs to ensure children get started on the right track.

For highlights of this week’s event, watch our video wrap up here!

Sandra Ramos is a student at Cornell University and a current intern in the Office of Communication & Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Summer Series Continues

Secretary Duncan and Let's Read Let's Move guest

Secretary Duncan joined by Tony award-winning actress and singer Phylicia Rashad and Washington Kastles tennis coach, Murphy Jensen.

Children from D.C. area schools took to the court today as part of the second installment of the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Initiative, a partnership between the Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service which engages children in summer reading and physical activity, as well as provides information about healthy lifestyles.

Today, Secretary Duncan was joined by Tony award-winning actress and singer Phylicia Rashad–best known for her role as Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show–and Washington Kastles tennis coach, Murphy Jensen to help promote active minds and bodies through an afternoon of reading, fresh food, and games.

The event kicked off with a performance from Kofi Dennis of the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts, who led the kids in exciting song and dance using drums, rhythm and rhyme. Afterwards, Secretary Duncan, Rashad, and the Washington Kastles read the children Giles Andreae’s book Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, and answered questions, talking about what it takes to be a professional tennis player and actually demonstrating exactly how giraffes would dance in real life, leading to some good laughs!

Through a variety of activity stations, such as “Shopping Cart Nutrition Race” and the Fruit and Veggies station, the children were able to sample fresh produce from local farmers and experience first hand how healthy lifestyles can be both fun and delicious!

The next installments of the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series will be on July 24, August 1 and 6. Each event supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, which promotes healthy eating and an active lifestyle, while also encouraging strong early learning programs to ensure bright futures for children.

For highlights of this week’s event, watch our video wrap up here!

Adam Sperry is a student at New York University and a current intern in the Office of Communication & Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

Kicking Off the 2013 Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Summer Series

Let's Read Let's Move

Secretary Arne Duncan joined Michelle Kwan, member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and Olympic figure skater, Sam Kass, executive director of Let’s Move! and senior policy advisor on nutrition, and Rep. John Kline, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, for the kickoff of this year’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series.

“To make your dreams come true, it takes hard work,” Michelle Kwan said to a room of young learners at the kick-off of this year’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer enrichment series at the U.S. Department of Education. The Olympic figure skater and member of the President’s Council on Fitness reminded them that it’s important to “practice, practice, practice.”

Kwan, along with Secretary Duncan, Sam Kass, White House chef and Let’s Move! executive director, and Congressman John Kline (R-MN) chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, came together as part of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s United We Serve: Let’s Read! Let’s Move! initiative, which engages youth in summer reading and physical activity, as well as provides information about healthy, affordable food.

More than 175 preschool and elementary school children from the DC area participated in an afternoon filled with an interactive cooking lesson from teacher, chef and advocate for children’s nutrition Kathy Powers, story time with Picky Peggy and Can I Play Too?, and activities like “Shopping Cart Nutrition Race” and “Make a Salad Relay,” with the help of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington.

Children were encouraged to continue reading this summer with a new book and book bag compliments of Target. At the end of the afternoon, each child left with full bellies, bright smiles, and inspiration to continue to work hard to reach their dreams.

The next installments of the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series will be on July 17, 24, August 1 and 6. Each event supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, which promotes healthy eating and an active lifestyle, while also encouraging strong early learning programs to ensure bright futures for children. Watch the video below for highlights from the kickoff event.


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Kelsey Donohue works in the Office of Communication and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

Wrapping Up the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Summer Series

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose,” read former NFL player Brian Mitchell during the final installment of ED’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series on Monday. Mitchell read Dr. Seuss’s popular book Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, which encourages children to reach for their dreams. It was the perfect lead-in for the Let’s Move! portion of the event where children from the local area participated in fitness activities and games on the Department of Education’s plaza.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, joined Mitchell for the final Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series. Three other Let’s Read! Let’s Move! events were held on July 11, July 18, and July 25. Each event supported First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative, which promotes healthy eating and an active lifestyle, while also encouraging summer reading and adult participation.


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Cydney Adams is a student at the University of Georgia and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach.

Team Squash and Team Broccoli Get Going at ‘Let’s Read! Let’s Move!’

Can you imagine young children debating over which fruit or vegetable is their favorite? At the third installment of ED’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series, that is exactly what happened. As the students arrived, they were put into groups named after fruits and vegetables, ranging from Team Strawberry to Team Squash.  “I love broccoli,” said Alyssa, a rising 3rd grader from Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Youth Center, when she was assigned to Team Broccoli for the day. “Carrots are my favorite,” said her friend Jaden. Luckily, they found common ground with their mutual dislike for lima beans.

A group of more than 150 local students joined Secretary Arne Duncan, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Services Wendy Spencer, DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, and U.S. Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Danny Davis (D-IL) for reading and physical activities at the Department of Education.

The students listened closely as the guests read popular children’s books such as Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems, I Believe In You by Marianne Richmond, and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld. They quizzed Henderson, Davis, and Spencer on everything from their favorite books to their favorite teachers. “When we read, we become friends with people who write books because they share their experiences with us,” Henderson told the children.

Kofi Dennis, a Ghana native, a teacher, artist and musician from the Wolf Trap Institute, entertained the children before the readings. and led them outside to the beat of his drum to begin the Let’s Move! portion of the event.

At the end of the day, each child left with a new book and book bag provided by Target. Other Let’s Read! Let’s Move! events were held on July 11th and July 18th, and the last one is scheduled for July 30th. Each event supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, which promotes healthy eating and an active lifestyle, while also encouraging summer reading and adult participation.


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Cydney Adams is a student at the University of Georgia and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach.

Moving and Reading with Stars at Let’s Read! Let’s Move!

Secretary Duncan, LeVar Burton and Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler reading to students.

Secretary Duncan, LeVar Burton and Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler read to students for Let's Read! Let's Move! Official Department of Education photo by Leslie Williams.

After all the excitement of yesterday’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! event, six-year-old Jorge exclaimed “I got to play basketball!” when quizzed about his favorite portion of the day’s activities. Yesterday’s event was the second in ED’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series, and many children like Jorge were eager to share their favorite parts of the event.

Jasmine and Analise, 9-year-old cousins from Thomas Stone Elementary, described how excited they were to read their brand new editions of Pippi Longstocking. A group of boys from Horizon’s Greater Washington excitedly shouted out that they learned how to grow stronger, to drink water, to read books, and to exercise.

Over 150 students from the DC area participated in the activities led by Secretary Arne Duncan, two-time Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington, Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler, and Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton. The children danced and played Simon Says, sang along with Miss America on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and laughed as Burton read the poem “Peanut Butter Sandwich” by Shel Silverstein. Burton surprised the students when he claimed that he usually reads four different books at once. “I love science fiction,” he told them.


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“Through encouragement at school, from my family, my mom and dad, that’s how my love for reading began,” said Kaeppeler, who read Ladybug Girl and Bingo by David Soman and Jacky Davis, before heading outside to play basketball and pass out fruit and water to the children. The students were also able to take pictures with Arrington, who was happy to have the chance to play basketball with the kids. “Stuff like this, it’s just awesome,” he remarked between photos.

Before leaving, students visited the autograph table where they were thrilled to not only get a new book but also have it signed by Arrington and Kaeppeler. “My first favorite part was getting the new book bag, and my second favorite part was reading and getting the autograph,” said Thin Wut Yi, age 7.

The students weren’t the only ones pleased with all of the activities. “This was wonderful, even with the heat,” said Thomas Stone Elementary School principal Helda Morad. “We’re very thankful.”

Each child left with a new book bag and books provided by Target, snacks, an autographed book, and a smile.

The first Let’s Read! Let’s Move! event was held on July 11th, and two more are scheduled for July 25th and July 30th. The four events support First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, which promotes healthy eating and an active lifestyle, while also encouraging summer reading and adults reading to children.

Cydney Adams is a student at the University of Georgia and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach.

Kicking Off ED’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Summer Series

A student races a shopping cart during the Let's Move portion of Let's Read! Let's Move!

Students raced to fill their carts with plastic fruit and vegetables during the Let's Move! portion of ED's first Let's Read! Let's Move! summer series. Official Department of Education photo by Leslie Williams.

“Reading is a way to travel in your mind,” said Cornell McClellan, the First Family’s Nutrition and Fitness Trainer, to over 130 students from DC area schools, camps, and youth programs yesterday at the first of ED’s four part Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series.

McClellan joined Secretary Arne Duncan and Sam Kass, assistant chef and senior policy advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives at the White House, to read and talk to more than 100 local children about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and learning over the summer. Students Jaden McDowell and Kylie Peterson, from DC’s United Planning Organization, had the honor of introducing the secretary and his guests to kick off the activities.

Kass read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and described the balanced meals he cooks for the First Family, while McClellan chose Jonathan London’s Froggy Learns to Swim. “It’s important to just move because almost any activity that you enjoy can be used as a fun exercise,” said McClellan before starting the Let’s Move! portion of the event.

Secretary Duncan, Kass, and McClellan, led the students outside for games and fitness activities. “If you exercise more, I actually think you do better in school,” Duncan said.

The children participated in games and fitness activities directed by ED’s partner, the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington Physical, Healthy, Drive (PHD) program. Kass and McClellan joined the students in a shopping cart nutrition relay while the secretary shot some hoops with children. Each child also received a book bag and a book of their choice while they snacked on fresh fruit, granola bars, and water.

In addition to Sam Kass and Cornell McClellan, Susan Hildreth, the director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, also joined Secretary Duncan for today’s event. Today’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! event was the first of four events to be held at ED this summer to support First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, which promotes healthy eating and an active lifestyle, while also encouraging summer reading and adults reading to children.


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Additional Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Events are scheduled for July 18th, July 25th, and July 30th.

Cydney Adams is a student at the University of Georgia and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach.

ED Wraps Up Its Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Summer Series

Special guest Dora the Explorer joined Secretary Duncan and ED Senior Advisor on Early Learning Jacqueline Jones to encourage young students to be physically active and to keep reading during the final Let’s Read! Let’s Move! event at ED headquarters Tuesday afternoon.

Duncan and Jones read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems, sparking an animated discussion with the children over what would happen if the book’s pigeon began to operate a motor vehicle, one particularly enthused young student shouted “he would go to jail,” much to the amusement of the adults in attendance.

Following the Let’s Read portion of the event, the students joined Dora in exploring the obstacle courses and participating in physical activities. The fitness activities are part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to emphasize the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle.


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This week’s event marks the end to the 2011 Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series; for more information on the initiative and its sponsors, read our previous posts on this summer’s first, second, and third Let’s Read! Let’s Move! events.

Noah Bokat-Lindell and Simone Zhang are interns at the Department of Education.

Let’s Read! Let’s Move!, Part III

(Official Department of Education Photo by Leslie Williams)

“You don’t have to be a professional writer to tell a story. So go out and tell a story!” Maya Soetoro-Ng told a group of young students gathered for ED’s third installment of its Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series.

Soetoro-Ng, an author and half sister to President Obama, joined former Washington Redskins linebacker Chris Draft, Top Chef alumnus Spike Mendelsohn, Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Robert Velasco II, and ED’s deputy chief of staff Eric Waldo at ED headquarters to encourage young students to be physically active and to keep reading.

Following the Let’s Read! portion of the event, the students joined Draft and YMCA staff in navigating an obstacle course and other physical activities during the Let’s Move! segment. The fitness activities are part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to emphasize the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle.

For more information on the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series and its sponsors, read our blog about this summer’s first and second Let’s Read! Let’s Move! events.

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The final Let’s Read! Let’s Move! event is scheduled for July 26.

Noah Bokat-Lindell is an intern in the Office of Legislation and  Congressional Affairs at the Department of Education.

Rep. Miller and Musician Eleanor Friedberger Join Arne for Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Part II

What if the law said you could have ice cream every day before school starts? Would you vote for that law?

That’s the question Congressman George Miller (D-Calif.) posed to the young students gathered last week for ED’s second installment of its Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series. Miller joined Secretary Duncan and musician Eleanor Friedberger at ED headquarters in encouraging young children to become active readers and active in physical health.

During the Let’s Read! portion of the event, Congressman Miller read Henry Hikes to Fitchburg by D.B. Johnson, and Eleanor Friedberger read the Dr. Seuss classic Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Eleanor inspired the students to pursue their dreams just as she has done.

Taking questions from the children, Miller encouraged the children to keep reading, “When you know how to read,” he explained, “you can do anything you want to do in life. Secretary Duncan asked the children to “keep reading all summer, go to the library, and go to the bookstore.”

For the remainder of the event, the children participated in Let’s Move! obstacle courses and other physical activities to get their body in motion. For more information on the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series and its sponsors, read our blog about this summer’s first Let’s Read! Let’s Move! event.


Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

The final Let’s Read! Let’s Move! events are scheduled for July 20 and 26.

Noah Bokat-Lindell and Eugene Smith are interns at the Department of Education

Kicking Off the 2011 Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Series


From left to right, Arne, Attorney General Holder and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Official Department of Education Photo by Leslie Williams

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!” read U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last week to over 100 students from DC area schools and Early Head Start programs at ED’s first installment of this year’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series held at ED headquarters. Holder joined Secretary Duncan, NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan in kicking off the 2011 Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series that seeks to increase awareness of the importance of summer learning and encourage adults to read to children.

Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan. Official Department of Education Photo by Leslie Williams

Holder offered a spirited rendition of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, while Abdul-Jabbar read Mina Javaherbin’s Goal, a book about a group of South African children who overcome bullying to follow their love of playing soccer. Following the reading, students discussed the importance of reading, eating healthy, and staying fit and participated in a series of fitness stations as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Lets Move! initiative.

After the activities, the students snacked on fruit and granola bars and received an autographed children’s book from Scanlan. Each school that participated in the event received a book for its school library signed by all the celebrities at the event. Students from Joint Base Anacostia Bolling Youth Center, Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center, Inc., Children’s Choice Learning Center, and the Parents Coalition of Montgomery County attended the event.

ED’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series brings together Cabinet members, administration officials and other public figures to read children’s books and promote healthy lifestyles. ED’s partners for this year’s series include the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington Physical, Healthy, Drive (PHD) program that will contribute staff and resources to conduct games, Target will provide books and healthy snacks, and Nickelodeon will provide cookbooks and pedometers.


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See more photos.

Additional Let’s Read! Let’s Move! events are scheduled for July 12, 20, and 26.

Noah Bokat-Lindell and Eugene Smith are interns at the Department of Education.