“Can you say, ‘Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss’?” asked NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.
Yes, you can! And yes, they did! Maybe not in a boat, nor with a goat, but 45 million students, parents, and educators celebrated NEA’s Read Across America this year, “in schools like this one, and also in libraries, community centers, and even in Congress and the White House today,” Van Roekel told students at Roosevelt School in Livonia, Michigan, on Monday morning.
Originally created by NEA and Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., as a one-day event on Dr. Seuss’s March 2nd birthday, NEA’s Read Across America has grown into a nationwide program that promotes reading with F-U-N activities every day. This year, with March 2 falling on a Sunday, the 17th NEA’s Read Across America Day was celebrated March 3 as NEA’s popular Cat-a-Van Reading Tour rolled into the Detroit suburbs.
As part of the three-week long reading tour, which was co-sponsored by Renaissance Dental, thousands of books and hats have been distributed to public school students. Renaissance Dental also provided $500 to each of the schools visited to stock their library shelves with new books and reading materials. Also, at every stop, hundreds of student took the “reading and brushing oath,” pledging to read each day and brush each night.
At 1 p.m. Monday, in the library at Vanderberg World Cultures Academy in Southfield, Michigan, Van Roekel sat down and cracked open his favorite Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham. “My grandkids have me read this book all the time. I have had practice!” Van Roekel told Vanderberg’s students, who stared wide-eyed at his companions, Thing 1 and Thing 2.
Turns out those kids have had plenty of practice, as well. Southfield’s local Revolution Read initiative has each student reading for 20 minutes a day. On Monday, they enthusiastically responded to Van Roekel’s animated recitation. “Would you eat green eggs and ham?” he offered. “No, I would not, Sam-I-Am!” they returned.
While Van Roekel read at Vanderberg, local guest readers did the same with their own Seuss-tastic tales at all schools in the district, putting every Southfield student on the same page — and the same path to a love of reading. Through the activities of NEA’s Read Across America, children should know that reading is important, and reading is fun, and you’re never too old, too wacky, or too wild to pick up a book and read with a child!
“It’s about developing a love of reading, and our educators do it every day,” said Lori Tunick, president of the Southfield Education Association.
The Cat-a-Van tour continues through March 14. Read more, and find resources at the NEA Read Across America website.
Audio: Dennis Van Roekel talks about Read Across America on WWJ-AM in Detroit