Bexley News

Read Across America Day

Books, Seuss' birthday a big celebration for district

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PHOTO COURTESY OF BEXLEY SCHOOLS
Cassingham kindergartners Carson Wolf (left) and Allison Lefkowitz make their placemats while waiting for a serving of green eggs and ham. The unusual breakfast fare was part of the school's Read Across America celebration which marks Dr. Seuss' birthday each year.

The day of Monday, March 3, was anything but usual for kindergartners in Elizabeth Stachler's class at Cassingham Elementary School.

Students dressed in their favorite pajamas were snuggled deep down in sleeping bags and propped on pillows, reading their favorite Dr. Seuss book.

As they read on their own -- and were read to by guest moms and dads -- they dreamed of green eggs and ham, which were on the menu that morning. It was a tasty way to celebrate the National Education Association's 17th annual Read Across America Day, which happens to fall on or about Dr. Seuss's birthday each year -- this year marked his 111th.

"Everyone had a great time," said Stachler, who sported a tall red and white hat to mark the occasion. "I had a lot of feedback from parents telling me how their child really enjoyed the day, and couldn't stop talking about it at home."

The NEA's Read Across America Day is a nationwide reading celebration that takes place annually on March 2, as thousands of schools, libraries and community centers participate by bringing children, teens and some great books together.

Because the day fell on a Sunday this year, schools decided to celebrate it one day later on Monday -- when they had their students' undivided attention.

The focus on Dr. Seuss lends itself well to the annual celebration of reading because his books are easily identifiable with both young and old, said Stachler.

"In kindergarten, we share who we are as readers -- what we like to read, where we like to read, and special reading memories that we have. Many adults today probably have reading memories that include Dr. Seuss books," she said.

"The reading memories made as a young child shape our reading identities."

While Stachler's students were enjoying their unusual school attire and breakfast, other students in Bexley observed the annual celebration as well.

At Maryland Elementary School, Amy Phillips' kindergartners also dove into their favorite Dr. Seuss story.

Charlyn Mancuso's kindergartners at Montrose Elementary School welcomed guest readers all week.

"The students created a list of questions to ask the adult readers about their own reading habits," said Mancuso, "such as where they like to read, what they are currently reading and what time of the day they like reading."

First-graders in Mary Ann Claydon's classroom at Cassingham also got into the action by writing their own "Seuss-like" creations to share.

Teachers also incorporated math lessons into the literacy event. Students in Diana Pryor's second-grade class at Cassingham graphed different colored fish crackers based on Dr. Seuss' One Fish, Two Fish, and solved mathematical equations with the data they had gathered.

But with literacy the main focus, teachers did their best to encourage students to have fun with their reading, both in and out of school.

"We want students to develop a lifelong love for reading and know that reading isn't just a job we do at school," Stachler said. "I encourage my students to read books every night with their families that they have read with me at school during a guided reading group.

"When students reread familiar books from school, it builds their confidence as readers. Hearing books read aloud provides a model for what fluent and expressive reading sounds like.

"Most importantly, spending time reading with your child is a gift that will give back for a lifetime."

Even President Barack Obama joined the hoopla this year, officially proclaiming March 3, 2014, as Read Across America Day.

"Literacy is the foundation of every child's education," Obama said in his proclamation. "It opens doorways to opportunity, transports us across time and space, and binds family and friends closer together.

"When parents, educators, librarians, and mentors read with children, they give a gift that will nourish souls for a lifetime."

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