Students and teachers celebrate Read Across America Day with community members
■ Olivia Gildea / Reporter
Jacob Wiens Elementary School ended its week-long celebration of Read Across America Day on March 2 in celebration of the national event that is held to honor the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. The school hosted multiple guest readers and planned daily activities for students to enjoy.
“The purpose is twofold,” said Jessica Franco, the parent liaison at the school. “It’s to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Seuss and to motivate children to read, as it is an important factor in student academic achievement.”
Franco says Jacob Wiens has been participating in Read Across America for at least the past eight years that she’s been an employee at the school, and most likely before that as well. The whole week at Jacob Wiens was filled with different themes for the students to participate in, all based on some of Dr. Seuss’s most popular books.
On Monday, the school began with “Green Eggs and Ham,” where the students wore green. Tuesday was “The Cat in the Hat”, which featured students wearing funny hats; Wednesday, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” students wore shirts representing their dream colleges; Thursday, “Fox in Socks”, was crazy socks day, and Friday, “Sleep Book” had students wearing their pajamas.
Friday also ended the celebration with several guest readers—different members of the community who volunteered to read twice to different grade levels to which they were assigned. Participating guest readers included city of Hemet Mayor Pro Tem Karlee Meyer, athletes from Mt. San Jacinto College, employees of Stater Bros. Market, Hemet Fire Department, Miss Hemet, Angel Augustine, Kiwanis Club, American Medical Response (AMR), Tahquitz High School, a Desert Regional phlebotomist, and the U.S. Navy.
The national celebration began in 1998, the idea of a small task force at the National Education Association (NEA), who noted the importance of children’s reading abilities and motivation. They decided to hold the event on March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss, who passed away in 1991, but who’s books and illustrations have been cornerstones of early childhood reading since his first book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” which was published in 1931. Featuring imaginary worlds filled with imaginary creatures and verses strung together in rhyme, Dr. Seuss’s books fill children with wonder and imagination, and leave lasting memories of themes that include honesty, uniqueness and standing up for your values.
The whole point of Read Across America Day is to excite children about reading in ways that they haven’t experienced before, or don’t very often. With teachers and students dressed in wacky outfits, role-model guest speakers and fun Seuss-related activities planned, the day really is something for all children to look forward to.
According to the NEA website, children who are motivated and spend more free time reading tend to do better in school. In addition to improving students’ education, Jacob Wiens looks to boost interest in books and “create lifelong successful readers.”