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President Bush says he really likes the White House because "they've got good food there" even if the job entails reading "tons of paper."

Bush reflected on his life as the nation's chief executive in a discussion Thursday with kindergarten through third-graders at Chicago's Farnsworth Elementary School.He first discussed education and the war on drugs with a group of area principals and then read to a group of young students in observance of National Literacy Week.

"You really like it or are you just saying that?" Bush asked his young audience, who clapped after he read from a children's book - something that his wife Barbara does frequently. He told the kids to go home and tell their parents and grandparents to read to them more.

"If you want to be president, learn to read and try to keep going in the right direction," Bush said.

But, he said, "there's tons of papers, just endless numbers of papers to read. I read so many I sometimes start reading backwards, which is very bad to do, because you don't understand it very well."

Bush asked the students if they saw news accounts of "the man from Russia," referring to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's recent visit to the United States. "You do things like that," he said. "And you work with Congress."

One child asked how many rooms were in the White House. "That's a good question," Bush said, clearly stumped. He said he guessed there were about 10 bedrooms.

He said his favorite room was the Oval Office, because it is "so special and so beautiful."