Imagine 45 million students sporting red and white stovepipe hats reading with educators, principals, parents, grandparents, athletes, meteorologists, local celebrities and lawmakers. That’s the scene this week in communities across the country as they celebrate Read Across America.
NEA’s Read Across America—sponsored along with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., and more than 50 national partner organizations—is a year-round literacy campaign designed to motivate children to read by making it fun. Every year, around the time of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2, thousands of schools, libraries, and community centers participate with reading events to pay homage to the beloved children’s book author and get our nation’s students excited about reading.
Part of Read Across America is NEA’s signature Cat-a-Van tour, which will travel through the Midwest this year. The Cat-a-Van transports The Cat from The Cat in the Hat to reading events where he enjoys the rockstar treatment from hundreds of eager readers. The Cat-a-Van, along with members of the NEA Executive Committee, also delivers donations for the libraries of selected schools and goody bags filled with books and stickers.
The Cat-a-Van’s first stop will be in Evansville, Indiana on March 2. Local news anchor Beth Sweeny and meteorologist Wayne Hart will join The Cat in an event at The Centre. They will share their favorite books with 600 young readers and pledge to continue reading throughout the year.
In Cedar Rapids, a community dramatically affected by the Iowa flood of 2008, the Cat-A-Van will stop at the Theatre Cedar Rapids on March 3. Second and third graders from Taylor Elementary, Cleveland Elementary, Wilson Elementary and Harrison Elementary Schools will celebrate with The Cat. Taylor elementary was completely destroyed by flooding, and this is the first year students have been back at the school. Displaced students at Taylor were split amongst the other three schools, all of whose populations were affected as residents had to move away from their damaged homes.
“The timing of this event couldn’t be better,” said Tammy Wawro, President of the Cedar Rapids Education Association. “It’s been a long winter and we could use some fun. A celebration around Dr. Seuss of reading and learning is just what we need.”
The Cat-a-Van will make its last tour stop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 4. More than 400 second to fourth graders will read with The Cat at Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin.
“Events like Read Across America remind all of us that teaching and learning can and should be fun,” says Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association President Mike Langyel. “We are pleased to be a part of this festive event, and give our MPS students an educational opportunity they will never forget!”