Author Ellen Oh visits students at Eastampton Community School

Author Ellen Oh virtually visited students from Eastampton Community School on May 12 as part of the NEA’s Read Across America Sweepstakes.

Oh, author of Finding Junie Kim, Dragon Egg Princess, and the Spirit Hunters, read to students and took part in a question-and-answer session with them. The NEA, in coordination with NJEA, delivered 80 copies of Oh’s Finding Junie Kim to the students for this event.

“Congratulations to the students at Eastampton Community School who have been selected to receive a virtual visit from acclaimed author Ellen Oh as part of NEA’s Read Across America Sweepstakes,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “Ellen Oh embodies the spirit of our popular year-round literacy program as we continue to celebrate and create a nation of diverse books, readers, and authors. All students deserve the freedom to read more books that are as diverse and complex as the society in which we live. When we have books that include characters of all races, genders, and backgrounds, students discover their own voices and learn from the stories and voices of others.”

Monica Dennler, a librarian at the school, entered the Read Across America Sweepstakes on behalf of her students. NEA randomly selected the winner from among the nearly 7,500 submissions. The popular contest ran between Jan. 10 and Jan. 31, 2022.

“‘Windows and mirrors’ are often discussed in education. Students need to see themselves ‘mirrored’ in literature and they also need to look through a ‘window’ to see others,” said Monica Dennler. “As a library media specialist of a Pre-K to 8th grades school, without a budget, I am always looking for creative ways to get the book for each of our students. Winning the NEA Read Across America Sweepstakes for our students will help bring awareness within our school and community as to the importance of students seeing themselves and their friends reflected in literature. We are so grateful for the opportunity to meet Ellen Oh, especially during AAPI heritage month. Author visits always bring excitement and a renewed interest in books.”

“Books are a passport to the universe and beyond,” said NJEA President Sean M. Spiller. “When children read, they can travel through time, experience different cultures, learn how other people think and explore the limitless spaces of an author’s imagination. We are grateful for Ms. Dennler, who provided her students with this opportunity, and for all our members across New Jersey who use books every day to open up new worlds to students.”

The year-round Read Across America celebration of reading takes place amidst unprecedented, partisan efforts to deny students an accurate and honest education, to censor the lessons taught in classrooms, and to ban books and erase students out of history based on their gender identity, race, or origins. 

About NEA’s Read Across Sweepstakes

The Read Across America Sweepstakes are part of NEA’s year-round effort to connect students with diverse books and the joys of reading.  Authors available for a virtual visit were: David Bowles, award-winning writer, poet, translator, and author of My Two Border Towns; J. Elle, author of the New York Times Bestseller Wings of Ebony; and Ellen Oh, author of Finding Junie Kim and the highly acclaimed, young adult series The Prophecy Trilogy.