Hillary Rodham Clinton was front and center to read a children's book when the new children's branch of the Central Arkansas Library System was dedicated in her honor today. She read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." If they ever name a library for me, I'll read "Hop on Pop." (PS: I'm not counting on the opportunity.)
Big day for the Clinton family today. Mrs. Clinton will be joined by the former president and their daughter, Chelsea, at a reception tonight for the Oscar de la Renta exhibit at the Clinton Presidential Center. Mr. Clinton is expected to attend a Human Rights Campaign reception at the Arkansas Arts Center with the HRC's leader, Arkansas native Chad Griffin, who worked on Clinton's staff and is the point man for a growing national movement to bring equality to gay people.
David Koon reports from the library:
Mrs. Clinton started off the afternoon by reading to children from the bookn"The Very Hungry Caterpillar." Afterward, festivities moved to the library theater for the dedication. The standing room only crowd burst into applause when she appeared, with surprise guest Bill Clinton, who sat in the front row.
CALS Director Bobby Roberts introduced Hillary Clinton, saying that he couldn't think of a better name for the system's first children's library. After acknowledgeing city officials, President Clinton and Betsey Wright, chief of staff when Clinton was governor, Roberts said that the names on the 13 named libraries in the CALS system represent "the goodness in all of us... They tell us what our community is."
Roberts said he could name 40 good reasons why the library should be named after Clinton, but narrowed it down to three: her service on the board of Arkansas Children's Hospital, her work as co-founder of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and her work to build a coalition to reform schools in the state in the months leading up to the 1983 legislative session. Had it not been for the efforts of Hillary and Bill Clinton, Roberts said, "we'd be sitting down here in the hot July dirt. This library wouldn't be here."
Hillary Clinton rose to speak then. Thanking officals with the state, city and CALS, she then recalled a childhood that was often spent going to the library, and remembered taking her daughter Chelsea to the old main library in downtown Little Rock. She said it was "very moving" to have a library named after her, and said she could not be more honored.
Bringing up research that shows rapid brain growth in childhood, Clinton said that 50 to 100 years ago, children could have learned many of the skills they needed from their communities or extended familes, which isn't the reality for many families anymore. Clinton said the library would help financially burdened parents to become their children's "first teacher" in the crucial early years of brain development. "We have to recreate the village." Clinton said. "We have to support families."