Harkin Favorite: ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ — Says a Mentor Ready for More

Photograph by Diyah Pera/TM and 20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

Robert Capron and Zachary Gordon in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.”

What is Sen. Tom Harkin looking forward to most during his upcoming retirement?

More time for reading.

The Iowa Democrat choked up talking about a children’s reading program close to his heart for 16 years.He received the Pioneer Award from Everybody Wins!, a literacy organization that pairs disadvantaged kids from the district with a mentor during the lunch hour.

One of Harkin’s mentees from years past made a surprise appearance at last night’s gala. Harkin reported with fatherly pride that she has graduated from high school and is on her way to college.

“I’m just glad I had some part of her life,” Harkin explained. “We bonded, and read a lot of books together.”

One of his favorite books to read: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”

He shares reading duty with his chief of staff, Brian Ahlberg, mostly because of his voting schedule.

Photograph by Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Brian Ahlberg, left, chief of staff to Senator Tom Harkin, right, and Luther, a fourth grader in the Everybody Wins! program.

“It used to be at noontime we didn’t do anything,” Harkin said. “Now for some reason we are having more and more votes at noon, and it’s really messed up my reading.”

Harkin created an Everybody Wins! in Des Moines in 2002, and said that he’ll continue his reading lunches in Washington and Iowa after his retirement.

He said he would also like to devote more time to disability advocacy.

“One of the worst things about being a senator is having too many things on your plate,” Harkin said, “and it’s also the best thing.”


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