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

This year, however, 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.

Historically, Read Across America is an annual celebration of reading on or around March 2, which, in 2020, is the 116th anniversary of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s birth. The RAA project was originated by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1999. While early March will still be a time to celebrate 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.

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.

Need ideas for your celebration? Visit nea.org/readacross and click on “Plan a Reading Event.” 

Invite the cat to visit your school

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.

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.

If you would like to invite the Cat to visit your school, fill out the online request form found at njea.org/ranj. 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.

The deadline for inviting the Cat is Friday, Nov. 8.

Visits will begin in February and continue through mid-March. Depending on when the Cat is available, the 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.

To learn more about NJEA’s Read Across NJ celebration, visit njea.org/ranj.

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