This astronaut is "on board" with summer reading

It may only be March, but we are knee-deep in planning our summer reading campaign.

If you're new to our campaign, here's a brief overview: the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is a free online reading program for kids that runs from May 5th to September 5th, 2014. Kids log the minutes they spend reading in order to reach weekly milestones, unlock prizes, and enter cool sweepstakes. There's also a fun competitive component: if kids sign up through their school, the minutes they read—along with their classmates' minutes—count towards their school's overall number of minutes read. The school with the most minutes at the end of the summer will win a school visit from David Shannon (winning elementary school) and Gordon Korman (winning middle school)! How cool is that?

There are so many cool features lined up for the summer, we can't even begin to list them all. As you may know, the new theme this year of the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is "Reading Under the Stars." So we thought, in keeping with our space theme, who could we enlist to help motivate kids to keep reading all summer long?

Readers, meet Leland Melvin, former NASA astronaut. Yep, we've got a real-life astronaut on board this summer. Leland Melvin served on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on STS-122, and as mission specialist 1 on STS-129. He is also the former NASA Associate Administrator for Education. And this summer, he'll teach kids all about constellations, space exploration, and why reading every day is so important.

Leland stopped by our offices yesterday (in his flight suit!) to film videos for the campaign. He told us about his favorite books, how he became interested in space, and some fun facts (did you know it takes only 8 and a half minutes to reach outer space from the time a shuttle blastoffs from Earth?)

Here's a sample video from the day. Take note: when a former NASA astronaut explains the significance of the patches on his flight suit, listen up. It's so cool.  

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