The National Education Association’s Read Across America day was March 2, and area school districts had programs planned to celebrate the big day of reading.
NEA launched Read Across America in 1998 and it does offer opportunities for reading year-round, but the big celebration of reading is on March 2, the birthday of children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
“Read Across America Day is more so a reading program, which calls upon everyone to read and engage with children to make reading a more fun and interactive experience,” according to National Today.
In Cheshire, Marlene Silano, assistant superintendent, said the district has various programs planned for the schools, including having Cheshire High School students go to Highland Elementary School to read to the young learners there.
“Everyone has a really good time doing that,” Silano said. “The high school students love coming back to Highland and the students that are here love seeing the older kids visiting.”
Highland also planned a “Drop Everything and Read” event at the end of the day on March 2, when they read for 30 minutes.
During the week leading up to March 2, Chapman School had a surprise guest reader to be live streamed for the entire school and the Chapman School Council collected used books to donate to Re-Read Books. In the spirit of the book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” students and faculty were also encouraged to dress up from places where they want to go.
At Doolittle School, fifth graders read to second graders and guest readers will be visiting library classes throughout the week.
At Norton School, the entire school will be reading “Charlotte’s Web.” In conjunction with the Norton PTA, the program will include reading, a mystery guest reader contest and chapter questions which enter students into a raffle. The PTA purchased the books.
“The major thing is that we are focused on reading and using this as a great opportunity to really dive in and engage students in reading and making it special by having guest speakers and live stream speakers and some fun spirit events for kids to show their school spirit,” Silano said.
“We are very excited to celebrate Read Across America across our district,” said Fran Thompson, assistant superintendent for personnel for Wallingford Public Schools.
“The fun thing of the day for us is, it’s another opportunity to invite mystery readers and guest readers into our classrooms,” he added. Thompson said classes planned to celebrate Read Across America throughout the week leading up to March 2.
It’s “an opportunity to really put an emphasis on celebrating reading, not just for learning, but for enjoyment as well because they are definitely interconnected,” Thompson said.
Read Across America is “happening all across the district, just in different ways, so the elementary schools will really be celebrating with those mystery readers and things like that, ” he added. “In classrooms in middle and high school, the emphasis as we do our work in our readers’ workshop, getting kids to pick books of interest for them and then read and share with their classmates and their teachers why the books are of such interest. It is often ongoing work, but it will especially be highlighted on March 2.”
Guest readers were to include Board of Education members, administrators from the central office, parents and community members. “The invitations go far and wide,” Thompson said.
In Meriden Public Schools, Daniel Crispino, director of school leadership for the elementary schools, said at least two schools will have judges come out to be guest readers for a class. Other guest readers at the schools will include parents, superintendents and teachers.
At the elementary level, Crispino said younger students and older students will pair up in an activity called book buddies. The older student will read to the younger student.
“The kids get so excited to hear somebody else read to them,” Crispino said.
“It’s not just the book, it’s that love of reading. But it’s also building that foundation that we want to make sure that our youngest students understand, so that they continue to do it as they get older,” he added.
Crispino said the elementary students get excited for the day as they make Dr. Seuss hats and get to participate in classroom activities, such as book buddies and guest readers. However, he hopes that the children will take what they learn at school to enjoy reading at home.
“It’s a great opportunity to motivate kids to want to read and bring books home and read to their families,” Crispino said. “Sometimes for homework (during the week of Read Across America) it’s read with a family member. Just ways to really try to increase that motivation and the goal is that reading isn’t just happening because it’s Read Across America day, but it’s Read Across America week and month and year.”
Stephanie Lawlor, district curriculum coordinator for English grades Pre-K through eight and social studies Pre-K through five for Southington Public Schools, said each school plans for Read Across America in a different way.
Lawlor said that, at Derynoski and Flanders Elementary Schools, the students will participate in a program called One School, One Book.
“This event really helps to build a reading community between school and home,” Lawlor said. “The entire school will read the same book for the month of March. There is a strong family engagement component to this event, as families read along with their child at home.”
Strong Elementary School had a different event taking place each day during the week of March 2. They included a book drive for children’s books for a child living in a homeless shelter, students dressing up like their favorite book character, classes hosting a guest reader from another class, students reading a selected book with the class (or a book of their own choosing) and students reading their favorite book while wearing pajamas.
Many schools had guest readers from the community come in and participate in a book swap.
“We also strive to ensure that students have access to books that allow for mirrors and windows,” Lawlor said. “We want to ensure that students see their own lives reflected in books, as well as a window into the lives of others.