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 are coming together to celebrate Read Across America Day.
For the 17th consecutive year, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is promoting reading and family literacy through its annual Read Across America-NJ program, which is spotlighted today, March 2.
“NJEA is proud to continue our long-standing tradition of supporting Read Across America,” said NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer. “It’s always one of our most popular programs of the year, and I know firsthand that despite the ongoing obstacles and limited classroom time, our members are dedicated to enhancing childhood literacy in creative and innovative ways.”
Read Across America is an annual celebration of reading on or around March 2, which would have been the 113th birthday of the late Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to generations of young readers as Dr. Seuss. The Read Across America project was originated by the National Education Association in 1999.
In schools, libraries, and other venues across New Jersey, students and eager adults will participate in various events organized by local school employees, and NJEA encourages all schools and community members to join in the celebration.
NJEA builds excitement for this annual event by sending five costumed “Cats” to visit over 300 schools across New Jersey in February and early March. 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.
For the last six years, each “Cat” gifts the library of each school he visits with one of his favorite books. This year’s selection is Dr. Seuss’s If I Ran the Zoo, a Caldecott Medal winner written in 1950.
Read Across America participants are always encouraged to wear an iconic red-and-white stovepipe hat, the symbol of The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss’s signature character, proving—as Dr. Seuss says, they’re “…never too old, too wacky, or wild to pick up a book and read to a child.”
“When children see adults taking the time to read to them, it shows that they are a priority and provides the inspiration that our children need to develop a life-long love of reading,” Steinhauer stated. “Participating in Read Across America is also a terrific way to let the kid in all of us rediscover the joys and adventures that books can bring.”
Today Steinhauer and fellow officers Marie Blistan and Sean Spiller, NJEA vice president and secretary-treasurer, respectively, will be reading to students in classrooms throughout the state.
To learn more about NJEA’s Read Across America celebration, visit www.njea.org/raa or check out our Twitter coverage at @NJEA.
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