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Education Secretary Prefers Summer Escapist Fare

Aug 5, 2007 (Weekend Edition Sunday)

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When U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings gets time to read, she likes to escape reality.

"I get plenty of nonfiction during the workday," Spellings says with a laugh.

The former Texas education lobbyist, who has two daughters, says her busy job doesn't give her much time for pleasure reading. When she does pick up a book, her choices tend to span the globe. From novels set in Afghanistan and North Dakota, to a memoir about travels in Indonesia and India, Spellings says she loves to be "swept away."

Reading and literacy is a cause that's close to Spellings' heart. She works closely with states to implement and enforce the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, which aims to bring all U.S. students up to grade level or better in reading and math by 2014.

Her love of fiction started early. As a child, her favorite book was E.B. White's Charlotte's Web. Today when she visits schools, she brings copies of the classic to share.

And she has yet more children's books on her to-read list. If she had all the time in the world, Spellings says that she'd read all the Harry Potter books in order, even though she jokes that she should be reading Shakespere's complete works.

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