First Lady Jane Beshear's Communications Office
First Lady Hosts Thousands of Fourth, Fifth-Grade Students for ‘Feed the Mind-Kentucky’ Literacy Celebration

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, September 29, 2015  
Contact Information:  Parry Barrows

Releases ‘Best Of’ Top 10 Reading List

FRANKFORT, Ky. – First Lady Jane Beshear today joined thousands of fourth and fifth-grade students from across central and eastern Kentucky for the third annual “Feed the Mind – Kentucky” event to promote and celebrate childhood literacy.  Students from 65schools in29Kentucky counties attended today’s celebration.

“Literacy is the foundation for a child’s success both in school and later in life,” said Mrs. Beshear.  “As a former teacher, I have seen firsthand the significant role reading can play in a child’s education and I am proud to be a part of this event to promote youth reading.”

This year’s celebration highlighted science-themed books in an effort to engage children in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. The event featured speakers including Kentucky storyteller Octavia Sexton, Pulaski County librarian Carol Sexton and Kentucky native Alecia Whitaker, author of the Wildflower book series and young adult novel “The Queen of Kentucky,” which is currently being optioned for film.

Each student at the celebration received free books sponsored by Arby’s Lexington Co-Op. 

The Arby’s Foundation is also donating $25,000 to the participating schools for their weekend backpack programs.  Schools typically offer weekend backpack programs for students who are fed during the week with the help of federal government programs.  Sending these students home over the weekend with backpacks full of food helps ensure that they are staying nourished with nutritional foods while not in school. 

The cost of the event is offset by the distribution of special Arby’s coupon booklets created specifically for the celebration.  For a donation of $5, Arby’s customers receive a variety of coupons and special offers worth over $20.   

Other sponsors for today’s event include Sheehy, WLEX and Pepsi. 

The Feed the Mind – Kentucky celebration is an extension of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development’s (CCLD) fifth annual Kentucky Literacy Celebration.Italso represents the evolution of a smaller annual event, ‘Read Pulaski County,’ that was started in 2011 by the Center for Rural Development, the non-profit Forward in the Fifth organization and local Somerset businessman Chuck Coldiron.

First Lady’s Final Reading Recommendations List
In the summer of 2009, Mrs. Beshear launched her Reading Recommendations Initiative in an effort to promote literacy and increase youth readership across the Commonwealth.  Since then, she has released reading lists with themes ranging from the Kentucky Derby to Kentucky authors to seasonal topics.  On this, her last reading list as Kentucky First Lady, Mrs. Beshear selected some of her favorite choices from previous recommendations.   

“In today’s technological age of on-demand television, video games and social media, I know that reading a good book might not be the first choice for some young people,” said Mrs. Beshear.  “However, reading and literacy are tools our students need to succeed now more than ever.  My reading recommendations throughout the last several years have been a part of my effort to promote quality literature and help our students develop a love of reading.  Whether it be a hard back, a paper back or an e-reader, I hope teachers, parents and all Kentuckians will continue to encourage our young people to read and emphasize the importance life-long learning.” 

First Lady Jane Beshear’s “Best Of” Reading List

  1. No Two Alike by Keith Baker (Ages Infant – 4) – “Young readers will be enamored with the wondrous illustrations and simple nature of this story.  It follows two red birds as they explore a white, wintery land filled with snowflakes, trees, leaves and branches—none of which are alike.  It teaches children about the beauty of being unique in nature, and as people.”
  2. The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle (Ages Infant - 4) – “The easy, rhythmic text and colorful, collage pictures combine to make this book a favorite for very young readers.  The book introduces children to different animals, the sounds they make and the activities they do as they visit a spider as she is spinning her web.  Through the process of web-spinning, the book also teaches children the concept of hard work and how it pays off.”
  3. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (Ages 4 -8) – “Young, soft-hearted Chrysanthemum is proud of her melodious name until she enters kindergarten and meets other students with simple, shorter monikers.  The other students mock Chrysanthemum for her unusual name until they learn their very popular musical teacher has a distinctive name of her own and that they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.  The story addresses the relevant topic of bullying for young audiences.”
  4. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak (Ages 4-8) – “Don’t let the title deter you, because this imaginative book will stir laughter in anyone who reads it out loud. The mishmash of quirky words devoid of illustrations brings a fresh take to the world of youth literature and is a sure-fire crowd pleaser for young audiences.”
  5. The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff (Ages 3-8) –“The first of an originally-French series of children’s books that features an endearing, enduring elephant named Babar.  This particular tale tells how Babar journeys to the city after losing his mother to a hunter, only to return to the jungle to become King of the Elephants.”
  6. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Ages 9 & Up) – “This Newberry award-winning novel will help young readers develop a personal connection with history.  Through the eyes of 10-year-old Annemarie, we learn her unique and brave experiences as she helps shelter a Jewish friend from the Nazis during the German occupation of Denmark.  The story sheds needed light on human decency and compassion amidst times of war.”
  7. Matilda by Ronald Dahl (Ages 9 & up) – “Matilda is a highly extraordinary young girl who is trapped in a house with ordinary and rather unpleasant parents and stuck in a school with a cruel headmistress.  After discovering special powers, Matilda decides to prank her parents and headmistress for their reprehensible actions in order to teach them a lesson.  The significance and value of education, hard work and fairness prevail in this novel.” 
  8. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Ages 10 and up) – “First published in France in 1943, this inventive fable is told by a pilot who crashes in the Sahara desert and is then befriended by a little prince.  The prince’s home is on an asteroid and he describes his many journeys from planet to planet as a result of his leaving his asteroid because of a love gone awry.   The story ends in a bit of mystery, leaving the pilot and the reader to wonder if the prince ever makes it back to his asteroid and his love.”
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Ages: 12 and up) -- "This book is a classic for a reason: the lessons contained in its pages are as applicable and important today as when Ms. Lee penned the words. This is a great book for families to read and discuss together. Plus, the author’s nephew is a Kentucky resident!”
  10. Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker (Ages 12 and up) –  “Set in small town Kentucky, this coming-of-age story will resonate with many preteen and teenage girls, as it follows main character Ricki Jo Winstead’s inner and outer struggle with popularity.  After a serious incident happens on her neighbor’s farm, Ricki Jo is faced with what is more important to her:  being a true friend or being one of the most popular girls in school.”