The National Association of Education’s annual Read Across America Day is observed in schools and libraries nationwide this week. The actual day is March 2nd, which is in honor on Dr. Seuss’s birthday.
Dr. Seuss was born Theodore Geisel in Springfield, Mass., in 1904. He attended Dartmouth College, where he wrote and then became editor in chief of the school newspaper. This is when he adopted the pen name Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss went on to write and illustrate more than 60 books in 54 years, between 1937 and 1990.
I spoke with librarians at elementary schools in Newport Beach and discovered that many exciting things took place this week in honor of Read Across America Day.
Peggy Rains, the librarian at Anderson Elementary School, said, “Just because Read Across America Day is observed on Dr. Seuss’ birthday everyone thinks they have to read Dr. Seuss books, but the real point is just to encourage reading in general. Although Dr. Seuss books are good for all ages, there are so many other great books as well.”
Rains is thrilled Anderson School was able to host a visit from author and illustrator Jon Sciezska, author of “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” and his newest book, “Spaceheadz.” Sciezska, who is a huge advocate for fostering a love of reading in all children, was also named the Library of Congress’s first national ambassador for young people’s literature in 2008.
The Anderson students were also encouraged to participate in a bookmark contest. This year’s theme was “Serve Up a Good Book.” Winners received an autographed copy of “Spaceheadz” and were honored this morning during a school-wide flag assembly with a framed copy of their winning bookmarks.
Winners were 1st grader Alexa Raak, 3rd grader Kristin Fredrick, and 4th grader Caitlin Purdy.
At the Harbor Day School, Librarian Mary Ann Mailloux says they celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday with cake in the library, shared by all the students. Mailloux also reads a biography of Dr. Seuss to the kids and has trivia and printable games from the Read Across America website.
Also, Mrs. Burke’s 3rd grade class really embraced the spirit of the day by bringing their slippers, pillows, little snacks and big pile of books into the library where they settled in and cozied up to the fire to read for a couple of hours. Science teacher
Newport Coast Elementary celebrated with an Author Festival. Scott Sutton, author and illustrator of the “Dinosaur Dog” series and the “Family of Ree” series, was the celebrated guest. The focus of his presentation was how to draw and the process of illustrations. Librarian Carmen McCormick noted the parallels between Sutton and Dr. Seuss: “They both create their own characters and write books that rhyme. “
Two lucky second graders were chosen to be the Fairy Escorts for the day. Ashley Zieper and Chloe Gebelin, donned a dress and fairy wings. The Fairy Escorts had the honor of escorting Sutton around campus and keeping him on track to where he needed to be and when. They also enjoyed lunch with the author, librarian and a few teachers in the library.
McCormick said that it is important for children to be exposed to authors.
“By meeting authors and illustrators [kids] feel they can be a good writer just like the person they’ve met. We’re all writers, writing is so important in life. If they learn to write well, kids will learn to enjoy reading more.”
Read Across America is a day set aside each year to celebrate reading and honor the great Dr. Seuss, but I think it is also a great time honor and celebrate our own wonderful Newport Beach school librarians and teachers – those who work hard every day to instill a love of reading, bring magic to the library, and expose our children to a variety of authors and illustrators.