Reading is a year-round priority for New Jersey educators and their students, but early March is, well, another story entirely.  The excitement is in the air as schools from Hudson to Cape May come together each year to celebrate Read Across America (RAA).

This year, however, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is bringing the excitement to new heights by launching Read Across New Jersey.  Read Across-NJ continues the tradition of past RAA celebrations while also encouraging students to explore their ever-changing world through books.  After all, a book can take children anywhere their imagination wants to take them!

Historically, Read Across America is an annual celebration of reading on or around March 2, which, in 2020, would have been the 116th birthday of the late Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to generations of young readers as Dr. Seuss.  The RAA project was originated by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1999.  While early March will still be earmarked for celebrating literacy across the nation, NEA is expanding its effort beyond the books of Dr. Seuss and embracing stories that include all age groups and cultures.

NJEA members again can take their school celebrations up a notch and invite the Cat in the Hat to visit their schools. For the 20th consecutive year, NJEA continues to spotlight reading and family literacy by providing the opportunity for NJEA members and their schools to win a visit from the Cat in the Hat.

In support of its members efforts to NJEA sends four costumed “Cats” to visit nearly 300 schools across New Jersey in February and early March.  Each year the “Cats” – retired educators who dress up in seven-foot-tall professional Cat in the Hat costumes – bring the literacy message to thousands of students.

NJEA members can now request a chance for a visit right online.  It’s simple: If you would like to invite the Cat to visit your school, fill out the online request form.  Completing the form does not guarantee a visit, but it is the only way to be considered for one.  The first 50 members to sign up will receive a gift, courtesy of NJEA.

Visits will begin in February and continue through mid-March.  Depending on when the Cat is available, his visit may be the kick-off or the finale of your ongoing Read Across- NJ celebration. NJEA cannot accommodate requests for specific dates, but will advise you in early January of the Cat’s availability to visit your school.

If you are selected, please keep in mind that while these “Cats” are a highlight, they should be just a piece of the bigger celebration you have planned.  Each year in schools, libraries, and other venues across New Jersey, students and eager adults will participate in various events organized by local school employees, demonstrating their commitment to childhood literacy.  Not sure what to do?  Visit nea.org to learn about ways you can create a memorable event for your students, your school, and your community.

To learn more about NJEA’s Read Across-NJ celebration or to sign up for a chance to have the Cat at your school, visit www.njea.org/ranj.  The deadline for inviting the Cat is Friday, November 8.

Tips for a successful Cat visit

If you are selected to receive a Cat visit, you will be considered the visit coordinator responsible for overseeing the event.  Follow these simple suggestions to make the most of your day.

  • Loop in your principal and school secretary on the day and time the visit will occur to avoid any confusion upon arrival.
  • Invite your colleagues to brainstorm ways to ensure multiple classes, grade levels and school employees can join in on the fun.
  • Plan an RAA event where the Cat can appear.  Use the free, downloadable materials found on NEA’s website to help organize a brief assembly where the Cat can join the fun.
  • Arrange for a special area for the Cat to get set up and ready to perform that day, as well as provide parking suggestions for him/her to follow.
  • Be sure to check your school and personal email often before the visit to get more tips, insight, and last-minute advice from the Cats themselves.
  • Enjoy the day!

 

 

 

 

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