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Preschoolers get the good word on reading from officials, celebrities

By Sally Holland, CNN
  • The Department of Education kicks off its summer reading program
  • Officials and celebrities read to preschoolers to encourage summer reading
  • "If you read a lot of books, you'll learn a lot," Miss America tells them
  • Attorney General Holder reads Dr. Seuss

Washington (CNN) -- "Bang ups and hang ups can happen to you," Attorney General Eric Holder read to a group of preschoolers from Dr. Seuss' book "Oh, The Places You'll Go" at the Department of Education's kickoff to its summer reading program on Wednesday.

NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan were all on hand for the "Let's Read! Let's Move" event in Washington to read books to the children and teach them about exercise. Abdul-Jabbar read a book about soccer in Africa called "Goal!"

The children were a little young to know the difference between a question and a statement, so when the floor was opened for questions, it became a little awkward.

"I like your book," the first "questioner" said.

"I like your book," the second questioner said.

"I like vegetables," the third questioner said.

"I love books too," the fourth questioner said.

"Where's Miss America?" the fifth questioner asked, with a real question.

Scanlan was sitting on the floor with the children in her Miss America crown and she smiled and waved to the kids.

"If you read a lot of books, you'll learn a lot," she told the children before moving on to her area of interest -- having a healthy lifestyle.

"You have to put good food into your body," she said.

"When you eat a lot, you turn into a monster," one boy chimed in.

This was first of three summer events sponsored by the Department of Education where administration officials and other public figures will read books to children to encourage summer reading.