“Let’s Read! Let’s Move!” Series Ends Where Reading Begins — at the U.S. Library of Congress

Secretary Duncan joined Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, Chef Pati Jinich, and NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon for the final 'Let's Read! Let's Move!' event this summer. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

Secretary Duncan joined Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, Chef Pati Jinich and NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon for the final ‘Let’s Read! Let’s Move!’ event this summer. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

The final “Let’s Read! Let’s Move!” event of the summer took place on July 30 at the Library of Congress. The “Let’s Read!” segment of the event took place in the Thomas Jefferson Library Exhibit, an area which took on a whole new meaning for many of the students after they learned that the last event hosted there had been for the Queen of England.

Secretary Duncan began by introducing his panel of celebrity guests that included Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, chef and host of the Pati’s Mexican Table TV show Pati Jinichand NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Warren Moon. They all took turns reading the book Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock and John O’Brien, with Chef Pati also translating into Spanish. From the story, everybody learned more about the reasons for the construction of the library building where we were sitting. Dr. John Cole, Jr., Director of the Library’s Center for the Book, then delighted all the children by announcing that each child would get a copy as a memento of the visit.

The Secretary’s guests answered the children’s questions, and emphasized the significance of a good education and a healthy body. Then, the children eagerly “followed the leaders,” Chef Pati and the Acting Surgeon General, to their different stations to begin the “Let’s Move!” segment of the morning event.

At his station, Dr. Lushniak gave everyone a real workout that got our blood pumping! He also emphasized his advice that they stay active, eat well and “never start smoking!” At another station, the children helped create a delicious plate using USDA’s My Plate guide, and learned more about nutrition from Chef Pati ,who shared some alternatives to their favorite junk food. After high-fiving Lushniak, an unexpected guest, USDA’s Power Panther, eagerly looked on and participated in exercises with the children. Library of Congress staff from the Young Reader’s Center also engaged the children in a Reading Discovery game, which involved a scavenger hunt through their new book and a quiz to see what they had remembered from the story they had just heard. The final station was a re-shelving book relay, coordinated by the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington’s Physical, Healthy, Driven program, which tested the children’s balance and pace by getting them to navigate around an obstacle course of books, while balancing a book on top of their heads. Some of them even got to compete against Warren Moon in this activity!

The event concluded with a book distribution, in which each child received a backpack with healthy snacks and another book of their choice, courtesy of Target and its partnership with First Book. AmeriCorps members also supported the event, and the Library staff provided a tour of the main reading room overlook to all the YMCA youth volunteers and interns who worked the event.

All in all, it was a day unlikely to be forgotten by the younger and older guests alike!

Lisa-Marie O’Malley is a summer intern in the Office of Non-Public Education at the U.S. Department of Education. She is a student at the University of Limerick.

Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Soars to New Heights

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Soaring to new heights at the National Air and Space Museum during a Let’s Read, Let’s Move! event. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

The third installment of ED’s summer series Let’s Read! Let’s Move! blasted into space at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on July 23.

Secretary Arne Duncan read The Astronaut’s Handbook, by Meghan McCarthy, with chief curator of the National Air and Space Museum Peter Jakab, U.S. attorney general Eric Holder, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, 2014 Miss America Nina Davuluri, and Carla Hall, chef and co-host of ABC’s “The Chew.”

“A book in your hand is more powerful than any space engine,” Jakab said.

With eyes fixated on the rockets and spaceships hanging from the ceiling,  students from youth centers and schools throughout the Washington, D.C., area filed into the Space Race gallery.

Clad in personally decorated astronaut helmets, they listened closely to the book’s themes of hard work, good study skills, and the keys to being a team player.

In addition to the book reading, there was a Mission to Mars puppet show and a question and answer session where kids quizzed the panel on the rules for pets on spaceships and the travel time from Earth to outer space.

Chef Carla’s food demonstration taught kids about fruits and vegetables that can be eaten in space, after she and the MusicianShip marching band led the students to the Let’s Move! activities featuring a group dance.

“It’s wonderful to broaden kids’ minds and to be at an event where you can find education in new ways,” Hall remarked.

The YMCA’s Physically Healthy and Driven program volunteers led the Let’s Move! activities including “exercise like astronauts,” where kids did commander crunches, pilot push-ups and competed in a shopping cart health food races before picking up a book bag and complimentary children’s book donated by Target.

The next and last Let’s Read! Let’s Move! event is scheduled for July 30. The program supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, which promotes healthy lifestyle choices and nutrition, while also encouraging strong early learning programs to ensure bright futures for children.

Molly Block is a rising senior at the University of Michigan. She is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

U.S. Supreme Court Hosts “Let’s Read! Let’s Move!” Event — An Historic First

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Students walk toward the Supreme Court for the second Let’s Read, Let’s Move! event of 2014. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

The second Let’s Read! Let’s Move! session of this summer took place at the U.S. Supreme Court on July 16. It was the first time the literacy and enrichment event was held at the historic location.

With the Capitol dome as the backdrop, students from Washington, D.C.-area schools exited their yellow school buses, squinting as they peered in awe at the massive columns of the Supreme Court.  Students hailed from William Paca Elementary School, St. Philips Child Development Center, the Metropolitan Day School, the United Planning Organization, and Judith P. Hoyer Montessori School.

A young girl got into the Let’s Move! spirit, counting as she climbed the steps to the courtroom, “…35, 36, 37, 38—wow!” Extending their arms towards the ceiling to take in the size of the vast space in the Great Hall under the rotunda, children peeked into the courtroom on their way to the East conference room.

Secretary Arne Duncan, joined by Marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court Pamela Talkin, and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell, read Marshall the Courthouse Mouse: A Tail of the Supreme Court. Phrases from the book, such as “voting unani-MOUSE-ly,” generated laughs from everyone in the room.

Secretary Burwell kneeled with the children to show the illustrations in the books and to point out that each page had hidden turtles—symbols of longevity, and the slow, yet deliberate pace of justice.

During the question-and-answer session, a child asked, “Why is the courthouse so pretty?” Talkin explained, “It is made to look special so every citizen understands how important the law is, as [the law] covers everyone from children to grown-ups, protecting our rights. It is a beautiful building because it does a beautiful thing, and we have a system that works.”

Energetic shrieks could be heard as the Let’s Move! activities commenced in the courtyard with joyful children participating in Supreme Court-themed activities emphasizing teamwork.

Children participated in the Scales of Justice Bean Bag Balance, the Majority Rules and Statute Stackers Relay Race, the Bill of Rights Frenzy, and they “exercised” their rights with the YMCA’s Physically Healthy and Driven program volunteers.

When I asked some students about their favorite part of the event, many responded, “Having the book read out loud.” In the courtyard, a student shrieked, “I found the turtles!” Sure enough, under the antique lamp posts were turtle sculptures.

The summer learning continued as interns, YMCA volunteers, and ED staff entered the courtroom for a lecture about the judicial functions of the Supreme Court and the building’s history.

The next two Let’s Read! Let’s Move! events will be held on July 23 and July 30.

Viviana Altamirano is a rising junior at Middlebury College. She is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Summer 2014 Kick Off

The Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series danced off to the beat of the Native American drum with the Black Bear Singers surrounded by 225 children, ages three to seven, in a continuous round dance at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) on July 9, 2014.

Secretary Arne Duncan was joined by NMAI Director Kevin Gover, Washington Kastles tennis coach Murphy Jensen, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, White House chef, executive director of Let’s Move! and senior policy advisor on nutrition in the Office of the First Lady Sam Kass, and Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer. The USDA Power Panther also made an appearance, motivating all in attendance to improve their eating and physical activity behaviors.

Students sang “Happy Birthday” to the museum at the top of their lungs and listened closely as Duncan and his friends read The Butterfly Dance by Gerald Dawavendewa. During the question and answer section following the reading, students quizzed the panel on their favorite books and sports.

Shortly after, the event transitioned to Let’s Move! activities, including a food tasting of banana chips with NMAI Mitsitam Café staff , indoor tennis with Washington Kastles team members Martina Hingis, Anastasia Rodionova, Leander Paes, Bobby Reynolds and Kevin Anderson, igloo building, an obstacle course through “the Wetlands,” complete with a kayak, Yup-ik yo-yo demonstrations, and Hawaiian bowling with the help of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. At the end of the day, each child left with a new book, healthy snacks, and a book bag courtesy of Target and its partnership with First Book.

The next installments of the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series are scheduled for: July 16, July 23 and July 30, in various locations throughout Washington, D.C. The program supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, which promotes healthy lifestyle choices and nutrition, while also encouraging strong early learning programs to ensure bright futures for children.

For highlights of this week’s event, watch our Let’s Read! Let’s Move! kick-off video:


Molly Block is a rising senior at the University of Michigan. She is interning with the Web Team in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

Kids: Time to Get Cooking!

Kids – it’s time to get cookin’! Entries are now being accepted for the third annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ State Dinner.

This nationwide recipe challenge aims to promote healthy eating among America’s youth. Children and their parents are encouraged to create original lunchtime recipes that are healthy, affordable and — above all else — delicious.

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Fifty-six children (one from each state, DC, Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories) and their parent or guardian will be flown to Washington D.C., and have the opportunity  to attend a Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. A selection of the winning healthy recipes will be served.

Let’s Move! has teamed up with Epicurious, the Department of Education and USDA to sponsor this gastronomic challenge and encourage healthy eating habits.

The rules are simple: the recipe must be healthy, delicious, original, affordable, and meaningful. Details and past examples are available here. All entrants are encouraged to reference the MyPlate nutritional guidelines to ensure recipes meet the primary criterion of being healthier.

Recipe submissions will be accepted through April 5th … so head on into the kitchen soon!

Learn more:

Dorothy Amatucci is a new media analyst in the Office of Communications and Outreach

Looking Back at this Summer’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move!

Across the country, students and teachers are cracking open their books and sharpening their new number twos for the start of an exciting new school year. And while the unofficial end of summer has passed, it doesn’t mean we can’t look back on all the fun we had with our friends and family.

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The Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series concluded at the National Building Museum and included appearances by Drew and Jonathan Scott, hosts of HGTV’s hit show “Property Brothers.”

Here at the Department of Education, we’re taking a look back at our five Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series events and all the fun we had keeping our minds and bodies active.

The events are part of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s summer enrichment series which engages children in summer reading and physical activity over the summer months, and promotes healthy eating habits.

You can read about each of the five events at the links below and watch our video summary of all five events.

Week One: Olympic figure skater and member of the President’s Council on Fitness Michelle Kwan, joined 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.

Week Two: Secretary Duncan joined Tony award-winning actress and singer Phylicia Rashad–best known for her role as Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show–and World Team Tennis Washington Kastles tennis coach, Murphy Jensen. Following the reading, members of Washington Kastles—Martina Hingis, Bobby Reynolds, Leander Paes and Anastasia Rodionova— and staff taught kids to play tennis on four outdoor kids’ tennis courts on the U.S. Department of Education building plaza.

Week Three: Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan joined 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. Before the reading session, Miss America lead children in exercises to Train Like An Astronaut with Shelley Canright, senior advisor to the NASA Associate Administrator for Education. After the training exercises, students went on a “mission to space” as they learned a dance that highlights the planets in our solar system and later participated in space-themed, physical activities.

Week Four: Secretary 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. Before the reading session, Mitchell, former Washington Redskins running back and Fuel Up to Play 60 representative, kicked off the event by leading children in an activity focused on healthy eating and exercise.

Following the reading, Harper, Mitchell, Lanier and the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington, led students in a unique Let’s Move! session, including a Petite Police Academy Physical Agility Test, during which students raced through an obstacle course to identify suspects.

Week Five: Secretary Duncan joined Drew and Jonathan Scott, hosts of HGTV’s hit show “Property Brothers,” at the National Building Museum to close out the series.


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

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:


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

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

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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

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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.


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

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.


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

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.


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

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