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Celebrating National Literacy Month

How do you spell poinsettia?

Macy's 4th Annual Spelling Bee winner Shivani Angappan knows.

She challenged "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith to a spell-off on the plaza Tuesday.

This year was Macy's 4th Annual Spelling Bee in conjunction with "Reading is Fundamental" (RIF), the nation's oldest and largest children and families' literacy nonprofit organization.

As in previous years, regional spelling bees took place in 26 Macy's store locations nationwide on August 16th. Competitors are 8 to 12 years of age. The final spelling bee with the top 26 winners took place this Saturday, September 26 in Macy's Herald Square. Angappan emerged as the winner. She is a home-schooled fourth grader from Bedford, Mass.

Angappan's spelling abilities are paired with her love of reading. She said she learned to read when she was just 1 year old. But now -- at just 9 years old -- her favorite authors are classic female writers Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen.

"The Early Show" celebrated on the broadcast National Literacy Month with RIF.

RIF and Macy's raised $6.5 million dollars this summer to provide new free books to kids across the country. In New York alone, RIF has provided more than one million free books to over 300,000 children this past year.

And at Harlem Academy students get free books from RIF three times a year.

Terrill Hughes a teacher at Harlem Academy, said, "Reading is critical."

And that's particularly true of Hughes' third-grade students who appeared on the plaza Monday. He said his students are at "a pivotal point" where they stop learning to read, and start reading to learn.

For more on the celebration of National Literacy Month on "The Early Show", click on the video below.

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