Parise scores with reading

Visits New Jersey State Library in Trenton to read to young students

Tuesday, 05.25.2010 / 5:36 PM ET / Features
By Eric Marin
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Parise scores with reading
Parise with Jeff Vanderbeek and New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie.
TRENTON – Zach Parise isn’t just the Devils’ leading scorer – he’s also one of New Jersey’s biggest bookworms.

On Tuesday, he visited the state library in Trenton and read aloud to young students as part of the New Jersey Library Champion program, which promotes the importance of reading to students.

The U.S. Olympian and NHL All-Star read Bark, George by Jules Feiffer to children from the Katzenbach School for the Deaf. The story, about a dog having trouble with his bark, was translated by an American Sign Language interpreter.

Parise’s an avid reader who lists James Patterson among his favorite authors. A 30-foot Parise banner has adorned the Trenton library since early this year.

“I think it’s important to stay with reading,” Parise said. “I think it’s the best way to learn different things, and it’s really important from an academic standpoint.”

The star left wing knows pressure on the ice: He scored the tying goal with less than 30 seconds to go in the gold medal game against Canada, and has topped 30 goals in four straight seasons with the Devils. At the library, he shined on a different stage for New Jersey’s young fans.

Parise reading to students from Trenton's Katzenbach School for the Deaf.
“I was more nervous doing that than playing in front of 18,000 people, I’ll tell you that,” he joked. “That’s a lot easier for me. This was a little more of a challenge.”

Also in attendance was New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie, who received her very own jersey from Devils’ Chairman and Managing Partner Jeff Vanderbeek. She presented Parise with a letter from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie encouraging him to keep spreading the word about the importance of reading.

Vanderbeek said reading programs had a profound impact on his academic career.

“Please try to read as much as you can this summer and throughout your lives,” Vanderbeek told the students. “You’ll be that much better off for it.”

Parise brought along his silver medal from the 2010 Vancouver Games and passed it around to the "oohs" and "aahs" of both the students and teachers in attendance. One of several local athletes involved with the Library Champion program, Parise was the first to visit Trenton and read to a group. Other Library Champions include Devils Alumni Association representative Jim Dowd, as well as Devin Harris of the Nets and A.J. Burnett of the Yankees.

“First  of all, he’s the best Library Champion in the world,” said Nancy Dowd, Director of Marketing for the New Jersey State Library. “Having the kids connect with him like this has been so rewarding. These kids, in particular, are heavy readers. Just the idea that they can spread the word out in New Jersey to have all the kids read – kids that like to play hockey, reading – it’s just amazing.”

For more information the New Jersey Library Champion program, visit njlibrarychampions.org.