MANCHESTER, NH – Congressman Chris Pappas came to Manchester Tuesday to hang out with a group of some 25 eager book-loving children at the school district’s final Bookmobile stop of the summer at the city library. This was one of several such stops Pappas has made as part of his overall tour of the district during the summer Congressional recess.
Under a warm sun, the elementary school kids sat on colorful blankets in a fenced-off area of the library parking lot. A few shelves of books were laid out for them, and any kid could take home any book. While the Bookmobile has its own books, the Pappas team had brought along a few of their own in addition. Those came from the Library of Congress’s surplus distribution program, according to Pappas aide Kari Thurman. She and colleague James Beaudry also “warmed up” the crowd with frozen ice pops.
The congressman arrived in shirt sleeves, introduced himself to the kids and set to work. Holding up a couple of children’s books, he asked his audience to choose one, and the kids made a selection enthusiastically by voice acclamation. As Pappas read the book, he was thoughtful enough to keep the book open and visible so that everyone could see the illustrations and follow along.
After finishing the book and encouraging the children to keep reading, Pappas was told he had enough time to read a second book. He again held up a couple, one of which was called “Duck for President.” The First-in-the Nation young citizens chose that one for Pappas to read. “Running a farm is very hard work…,” the congressman intoned as he read the story of a duck on a farm running for office, visiting diners and looking for votes, before winning his campaign and becoming president. Although the children enjoyed the story, the 15 or so adults surrounding them were the most amused, laughing frequently.
Book reading duties completed, Pappas started walking around to speak to some of the adults, clearly happy to meet the children and their parents. Local schools are far from the direct responsibilities of Congress, yet central to the concerns of voters in the district. What did he think of the education planning group Manchester Proud, Pappas was asked.
“I think it is an exciting opportunity to engage community members, business owners, folks who care about the future of Manchester in improving public education in our city,” Pappas said. “I think it says a lot that there are a number of folks that are willing to step up to the plate and be a part of the conversation. So I hope it is well received and we can implement some of the ideas, some of the recommendations.”
Looking forward to the new session of Congress after Labor Day, Pappas also said he would be interested in considering “additional legislation to respond to the national tragedy of gun violence.”