Established 20 years ago by the National Education Association (NEA), Read Across America Day is an annual nationwide reading celebration that takes place on March 2 – the birthday of legendary cartoonist and book publisher Dr. Seuss.
Each of the four Salem elementary schools celebrated the occasion this year with snacks, books, creative hats and some special visitors.
Several members of Salem High School’s National Honor Society spent the day with the elementary school students. “I’m one of the co-sponsors of the National Honors Society,” Salem High History Teacher Justin Halterman said. “Each student had to fill out an interest form to get selected. We are getting ready for English SOLs (Standards of Learning Test) next week so they all had to get permission from their teachers to miss today.”
Dr. Seuss is responsible for some of the greatest children’s books of all time: “The Cat in the Hat”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish”, “The Sneetches and Other Stories” and “Hop on Pop”. A few third and fourth graders said they have read most of Dr. Seuss’ books. “My mom use to collect them when she was younger and she gave them to me last year for my birthday,” one child said with a huge smile. Added another, “I was told by my dad ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas’ was the first book that I ever read.”
Reading Specialist Becky Harmon said she loves Read Across America Day because it’s great for everyone involved. “Students from kindergarten to the fourth grade were all given the chance to read with a high school buddy today. After reading, they wrote about some of their favorite books, nonsense words and goals as a reader,” the South Salem Elementary employee said. “This interaction really encourages students to become lifelong readers.”
Mary Gregory, a Guidance Counselor at East Salem, said this year’s Read Across America Day went exactly how she thought it would. “As a staff, we look forward to this day every year,” she said. “Everyone involved did a great job.”
Hysterical Blindness actress Uma Thurman suffered from dyslexia as a child. For years, she has used her platform to spread awareness of National Read Across America Day along with countless other celebrities. “As a mother of three, with one now a teenager, I’ve seen the benefits of reading to and with my children throughout the span of childhood,” she said. “Reading has helped develop my children and my family. Spending that time together means so much.”
Almost 30 years after his death, Dr. Seuss continues to have a profound impact on the lives of so many people all over the world. Most of the local elementary students student went home Thursday evening with a colorful hat.