First lady: Exposure to arts essential for kids

First lady Michelle Obama says kids need more than just a good education: They need exposure to the arts, and early.

“An educational foundation is only part of the equation,” the first lady said at an East Room luncheon honoring the nation’s top designers, winners of the 10th annual National Design awards. “In order for creativity to flourish and imagination to take hold, we also need to expose our children to the arts from a very young age.”

She said Albert Einstein had it right when he said imagination is more important than knowledge. “We need to ensure that our children have both ? knowledge and imagination. I know I want that for my girls. They deserve to have access to a good education and access to ideas and images that will spark their creativity.”

Speaking of her children, the first lady also made a rueful reference to their dependence on laptops. One of the award winners, Bill Moggridge, designed the first one.

“What would we do without our laptops? My kids would die,” Mrs. Obama said to laughter. “They’d be ? they wouldn’t make it through the summer. I don’t know whether to thank you, Bill, for that.”

Hosting the National Design awards, presented by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, is a recent tradition for first ladies since Hillary Rodham Clinton. But Mrs. Obama added a twist this year: On Friday morning, she sent both award winners and members of the White House staff out into different museums in the capital to assist in presenting seminars to the public.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.