Summer Reading Heats Up as Governors’ Spouses Become “Reading Ambassadors” to Donate Books to Children

First Spouses and a Governor Host Scholastic Summer ChallengeTM Events to Encourage Summer Reading

New York, NY (July 8, 2009) – Summer reading got a boost recently as 38 U.S. Gubernatorial Spouses and one Governor joined the Scholastic Summer Challengeliteracy campaign as “Reading Ambassadors” to encourage kids to read four or more books. Twenty-eight Reading Ambassadors also hosted events in their states to speak to students, families, and teachers about the importance of summer reading. In support of the Governors’ Spouses’ involvement, Scholastic donated 500 books to fourth and fifth grade students in each of the participating states – a total of 19,500 books.

Since the Scholastic Summer Challenge launched on April 30, 2009, more than 55,000 kids have signed up for the Challenge and have recorded more than 49 million minutes spent reading. The Scholastic Summer Challenge web site has viewers in 143 countries, for over one million combined page views to date.

"We are grateful to the Reading Ambassadors for helping spread the message that when children read over the summer they return to school ready to progress further and farther," said Richard Robinson, Chairman and CEO, Scholastic. "These role models have sent a powerful message to children and families in their states. We are thankful for the opportunity for Scholastic to deliver nearly 20,000 books to children across the country who can now take a book home to read and share with family and friends -- something we know is critical for becoming a passionate reader." 

In addition to lending their names to the cause, 27 First Spouses and one Governor also hosted reading events in their states:

  • First Lady of Louisiana Supriya Jindal hosted seven events at schools and summer camps across the state - leading science experiments, discussing the importance of math and science in everyday life, and encouraging kids to keep reading this summer.
  • First Lady of Kansas Stacy Parkinson hosted a reading event at Mueller Elementary School, a magnet school for aerospace and engineering, in Wichita.  In recognition of the 40 year anniversary of the first moon landing, she read a passage from Neil Armstrong's 1969 press conference.
  • In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn spoke to students during the graduation ceremony at Crispus Attucks Academy in Chicago.

The Reading Ambassadors also tailored distribution of the 500 books donated to their states to best serve students:

  • First Gentleman of Alaska Todd Palin divided the book donation into small increments to service the smaller schools in Alaska’s northern region and included a personal letter with each shipment.
  • First Lady of North Dakota Mikey Hoeven distributed all 500 books to Stony Creek Elementary, a small rural school that had been damaged by fire and was in need of books.

Scholastic, together with The National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University and Save the Children, launched the Scholastic Summer Challenge on April 30, 2009, to encourage kids to read four more books over the summer to combat the “summer slide.”  All summer long, kids can log on to to join a team, record the minutes they spend reading, and earn points for their team. They can also find great book suggestions for their age and interest, play games, win prizes, connect with other readers, and contribute to a worthwhile cause. At the end of the summer, Scholastic will make a financial contribution to Save the Children’s U.S. programs on behalf of all the participating readers, and the Summer Challenge team with the most points will get to vote on which Save the Children program gets an extra donation. Parents, teachers and librarians can engage in the Scholastic Summer Challenge as well by logging on to explore new multi-media content about kids and reading, get advice from experts, download free lesson plans and materials, and find summer book lists and articles in English and Spanish.

Following are the 2009 Reading Ambassadors to date:

Alaska – First Gentleman Todd Palin
Arkansas – First Lady Ginger Beebe
Colorado – First Lady Jeannie Ritter
Connecticut – First Gentleman Louis Rell
Georgia* – First Lady Mary Perdue
Guam* - First Lady Joann Camacho
Idaho* - First Lady Lori Otter
Illinois* – Governor Pat Quinn
Indiana – First Lady Cheri Herman Daniels
Iowa* - First Lady Mari Culver
Kansas* – First Lady Stacy Parkinson
Kentucky* – First Lady Jane Beshear
Louisiana* - First Lady Supriya Jindal
Maine* - First Lady Karen Baldacci
Maryland* - First Lady Katie O’Malley
Michigan* – First Gentleman Daniel Mulhern
Missouri* - First Lady Georganne Nixon
Montana* - First Lady Nancy Schweitzer
Nebraska* - First Lady Sally Ganem
Nevada* - First Lady Dawn Gibbons
New Hampshire - First Lady Dr. Susan Lynch
New Mexico* - First Lady Barbara Richardson
New York – First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson
North Carolina* - First Gentleman Robert Eaves
North Dakota* - First Lady Mikey Hoeven
Oklahoma – First Lady Kim Henry
Oregon* - First Lady Mary Oberst
Pennsylvania* - First Lady Marjorie Rendell
Rhode Island* – First Lady Suzanne Carcieri
South Carolina* - First Lady Jenny Sanford
South Dakota - First Lady Jean Rounds
St. Thomas Virgin Islands* – First Lady Cecile deJongh
Tennessee* - First Lady Andrea Conte
Texas – First Lady Anita Perry
Utah* - First Lady Mary Kaye Huntsman
Virginia* - First Lady Anne Holton
West Virginia* - First Lady Gayle Manchin
Wisconsin* - First Lady Jessica Doyle
Wyoming - First Lady Nancy Freudenthal

* denotes states that hosted reading events

For event photos and more information visit

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