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Reading helps life's goals, Bush says

Visiting Wesley Chapel to launch the 2005 sales tax holiday, he urges parents to link books to kids' dreams.

By SEUNG MIN KIM
Published July 24, 2005


WESLEY CHAPEL - When Gov. Jeb Bush on Saturday quizzed elementary-school students on what they wanted to be when they grew up, he got the usual answers. Author. Teacher. Police officer.

But a pediatric endocrinologist? Entomologist? A rock star?

The myriad answers the Turner Elementary School children tossed at Bush didn't surprise the governor, however.

"I learn a lot when I talk to kids and ask what they want to be when they grow up," Bush said. "Without reading, the chances of them being successful is limited. We want to get parents to link reading to their children's dreams."

Bush and many local officials stopped by Beall's Department Store in Wesley Chapel Saturdaymorning to advocate reading and to officially launch this year's statewide tax-free holiday. About 35 children who will be in grades kindergarten through fifth grade at Turner, which will open next month in Tampa, crowded around Bush as he read, answered questions, and told the children that reading is a crucial avenue to reaching their career dreams.

Beall's also presented Bush a $23,964 check to benefit the Just Read, Florida! program. Beall's donates two dollars of every children's book sold to the statewide effort aimed toward boosting all Florida children's reading abilities to or above grade level by 2012.

The reading program, which Bush called his top priority, will need a blend of parent, business and community involvement in order to succeed, the governor said.

Many of those parents, who Bush deems crucial to promote reading in the home, were at Beall's on Saturday, snapping away with their cameras and watching their children chime along with Bush as he read to them excerpts from Who am I? Insects and Who am I? Dinosaurs, identifying the different creatures hidden in the flaps of the board books.

Florida lawmakers this year included the provision that also exempts books from taxes during the week-long holiday. Clothes, shoes, books and certain accessories priced at $50 or less are tax-free until July 31, and school supplies that are $10 or less are also exempt from taxes.

The holiday is estimated to save Floridians $38-million.

"That's $38-million that can stay in the pockets of Florida families," Bush said. "And I hope they spend it on reading."

Saturday's event was a great way to promote the importance and values of reading, said Wesley Chapel resident Dave Bauer, whose 7-year-old daughter, Caitlin, is the aspiring rock star.

"I was kind of surprised," Bauer said of Caitlin's response. "But she's always watching the country music station, singing along."

[Last modified July 24, 2005, 00:22:18]


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