Reading: You’re never too old, wacky, or wild

NJEA’s annual Read Across America in full swing

Published on Friday, March 1, 2013

 2013 Cat in the Hat
Media specialist Cindy Kellenberger, left, of Washington Elementary School, West Caldwell, poses with Principal Barbara Adams and Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat on Monday, Feb. 4.
Reading is a year-round priority for New Jersey educators and their students, but early March is, well, another story entirely.

For the 15th consecutive year, the New Jersey Education Association is promoting reading and family literacy through its annual Read Across America-NJ program, which culminates today, March 1.

“Read Across America is one of our most popular programs,” said NJEA President Barbara Keshishian. “It brings educators, students, parents, and the public together to celebrate reading in exciting and creative ways.”

Read Across America is an annual celebration of reading on or around March 2, which would have been the 109th 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 literacy by sending five costumed “Cats” to visit more than 250 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 four years, each “Cat” gives the library of each school he visits with one of his favorite books; this year’s selection is Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham, a critically-acclaimed classic that went on to become the fourth best-selling children’s book of all time.

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.

“When we think about Read Across America, we often think of red and white stovepipe hats and green eggs and ham, but this program is more than just a fun and amusing celebration,” Keshishian said. “Read Across America is about encouraging literacy and inspiring children to develop a genuine love of reading, and we urge parents and other adults to continue the commitment of this observance by reading to – and with – children every day.”

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