Remembering 2018: Read Across America Day brings students, community together

(Published on March 8, 2018)

Photo by Shawn Nowlin
Salem High junior Azyah Burnette reading to students at East Salem Elementary.

Legendary cartoonist and book publisher Dr. Seuss was a writing connoisseur.

He authored over 60 children’s books over his lifetime, including the international bestsellers “Horton Hatches the Egg,” “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Butter Battle Book.” Read Across America Day, an annual occurrence that began in 1997, takes place every March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Each of Salem’s six public city schools participated in Read Across America Day, along with thousands of other schools throughout Virginia. Salem High School National Honor Society members visited East Salem, GW Carver, West Salem and South Salem Elementary School to read books to students, give out snacks and interact with the Cat in the Hat.

From as far back as she can remember, Salem High junior Azyah Burnette has been an avid reader. Reading to grade school students is a strong passion of hers.

“They asked a lot of questions, and you could just see the enthusiasm on their faces,” Burnette said. “Just eight years ago, I was in their shoes. Inspiring the youth is a good feeling.”

Several pupils asked Salem High senior Nick Wade about Dr. Seuss while he was at GW Carver Elementary. “They were really excited to learn more about Dr. Seuss, and I had fun explaining his legacy,” Wade said.

Whitney Flynn was a supporter of Read Across America Day long before she was hired as a pre-school teacher at East Salem Elementary.

“If you can entice students to read at an early age, they will continue to have the desire and passion for learning more,” she Flynn who encourages her students to read daily. “I believe that students are made readers on the laps of their parents. Students have an eagerness to learn, and as adults, we have to promote and encourage them.”

South Salem Principal Margaret Humphrey also regularly encourages her students to read every day. “Children have so many different things to entertain them now, we have to teach them to love reading when they are very young,” she said.

Seeing kids get excited about reading is a feeling that never gets old for Elizabeth Lawrence, a West Salem kindergarten teacher.

“One of my favorite parts of teaching is seeing kids light up with pride after reading a book for the first time,” Lawrence said. “It is like they truly never realized it was possible and they just can’t believe they did it. It leads to great discussions and is an excellent way to connect with them.

Dr. Seuss was born Theodor Geisel in 1904. He died on September 24, 1991, at age 87.

more recommended stories