While in California for her Los Angeles book tour stop, the former First Lady visited the Para Los Niños Early Education Center to read The Gruffalo and Llama Llama Red Pajama to a group of 4 year olds from low-income families.
“My heart is so full after visiting the @paralosninosorg in the Skid Row neighborhood of Los Angeles,” Mrs. Obama tweeted afterwards. “With big smiles and even bigger dreams, these beautiful kids and their families are the heart of the America that I’ve gotten to know so well, and that I’ll always believe in. ”
Giving out endless hugs and even bringing an extra book to read, Mrs. Obama interacted with the children and asked them to “use their imagination” before also asking the adults in the room to join in on the fun.
“They’re not flapping! Tell them to flap!” Mrs. Obama encouraged the kids, laughing. Afterwards, she invited the children to pick out three books to take home.
“You don’t know what this is?” Mrs. Obama asked, jokingly pointing to tote bags designed to look like old-school library cards. “This is what old people like me would use to take out our library [books]!”
After choosing their favorites, each child approached Mrs. Obama for a warm hug.
“To have somebody of Michelle Obama‘s stature to come and validate the work that we do here [is incredible], but more importantly, it was Michelle Obama,” Angela Capone, a school administrator, told PEOPLE. “I think it’s important to understand that learning and literacy and talent lives and breathes everywhere, even in places that you don’t think it might be. There it is, and it’s thriving.”
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The school Mrs. Obama visited partners with nonprofit Child360, which strives advance early education to support the development of a qualified diverse workforce. Child360 received a one million book donation in the Obama family’s name.
“Most of the kids live a life that is complicated,” Capone added. “They have parents who are hardworking and want the very best for their children.”