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Winnipeg Jets score with kids by reading books

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THE Winnipeg Jets went back to school Monday to help promote reading in two Winnipeg elementary classrooms.

Jets players Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little read to students at Riverbend Community School just off north Main Street, while Evander Kane and Mark Stuart read to students at Niji Mahkwa School on Flora Avenue in the North End.

"Reading is such an important part of living and everyday little things," said Ladd, the Jets' captain. "It's important to get kids excited about reading and provide a book that they can hopefully get excited about and have fun with."

February is I Love to Read month, and teachers and their kids had to write a 50-word submission on why the Jets should visit their classroom.

Students from Riverbend and Niji Mahkwa were the lucky winners.

Eighty-five students from grades 1 to 5 filled the Riverbend school library early Monday afternoon -- many were decked out in Jets jerseys, holding up Jets flags and mini-sticks, screaming, "Got Jets go!" as Ladd and Little walked in.

Logan Brown, 9, got to see his favourite player, Ladd, and even asked him a question about the loudest crowd they've had at a game. Turns out Winnipeg's clash with Montreal brought out the biggest cheers at the MTS Centre. "I felt pretty excited to see (Ladd and Little). It was cool," Logan said. "They're really good storytellers."

The two Jet forwards, linemates for much of the NHL season, read a story called Brady Brady and the Most Important Game by Mary Shaw and Chuck Temple, an aptly chosen tale about little-league hockey and the winning and losing spirit.

Carly Marquardson, a Grade 1 teacher at Riverbend, thought a visit from the Jets would be the perfect way to demonstrate to the kids why reading is important.

"(My students) worship the Jets. They idolize them. So, especially if they can see Andrew Ladd reading, it makes it cool and it makes it something that they want to do, too. It's important for them to see their role models doing things like reading," she said.

Marquardson invited four other Riverbend classes to attend the reading.

"I just wrote how passionate the kids are about hockey and the Jets in specific. They come to school every day with their Jets T-shirts and their Jets mini-sticks that they play with every recess pretending to be the Jets," she said. "To get them to see the Jets reading, that might encourage them or be a catalyst for them to be as passionate about reading as much as they are about hockey."

jennifer.ford@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 14, 2012 A4

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