Politics and prose mix in Hassan's visit to fourth-graders

Union Leader Correspondent
March 07. 2013 9:08PM
Fourth-grader James Rivers chatted up Gov. Maggie Hassan during the governor's visit to Dr. H.O. Smith School in Hudson Thursday morning. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

HUDSON -- A group of Hudson fourth-graders had plenty of questions for Gov. Maggie Hassan on Thursday when she stopped by Dr. H.O. Smith School as part of the Read Across New Hampshire program.

During her 45-minute visit, Hassan read the students one of her children's favorite books, Dr. Seuss' "Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose." She also encouraged the kids to share some favorites of their own and welcomed questions ranging from "Do you have any pets?" to "How difficult is your job?" to "Do you ever get a day off?"

The kids were delighted to learn that Hassan adopted a shelter dog by the name of Honey Mae, has plenty of folks to help her out and does, in fact, get the occasional weekend off - though not so much during the state budget season.

Later, they learned a bit about a typical day in the State House (every day is different, she told them) and whether or not "she gets to hang out with President Obama a lot?" (She's met him several times, but they're both too busy to really "hang out.")

The National Education Association's signature Read Across America program, which is in its 16th year, encourages reading for learning and for pleasure.

Hassan told the youngsters she's particularly fond of the Seuss story because it shares a positive message.

The main character of the tale, "Thidwick," has a generous heart but is often taken advantage of by some of the other animals. Eventually, however, he learns to stand up for himself.

"Sometimes you just have to stick up for who you are," Hassan told the kids. "But there are ways to do it politely."

The governor wasn't the only Dr. Seuss fan in the room. Dozens of tiny hands shot up to name some other Seuss classics they've enjoyed, from "The Cat in the Hat" to "Hop and Pop."

"When my children were little, their dad would read them 'Hop and Pop' and they'd actually hop all over him," Hassan said.

Asked about her more grown-up reading selections, the governor said her favorite authors range from Jane Austin to Shakespeare to Robert Penn Warren, though right now she's reading a biography of Thomas Jefferson.

"He was once a governor, and sometimes when you're a governor, it can be helpful to see how other governors solved problems," she told the children.

Smith School fourth-graders are reading some biographies of their own, school officials said, noting that the kids will soon be working on projects that involve creating costumes and "bottle biographies" out of soda bottles based on the books they've read.

Among the biographies favored by the local fourth-graders were books on Babe Ruth, Ronald Reagan, Helen Keller and Harry Houdini, among others.

After receiving an impromptu school tour from students Kaliana Secchiaroli and Kaylie Lopes, Hassan was presented with a gift of appreciation - a Dr. Seuss book mark from student James Rivers.

And James had a question of his own for the governor.

"Have you ever met the Queen of England?" he asked her.

The answer was no, but James wasn't discouraged.

"I'm going to start pushing myself so I can someday have your job," he told the governor.


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