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NEA’s Read Across America Kicks Off in Atlanta

Read-in launches Cat-a-Van tour through Southeast to bring gift of reading


ATLANTA - February 29, 2008 -

Hundreds of local schoolchildren were encouraged not only to touch but open up books during a special read-in at Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta to kick off this year’s Read Across America, the nation’s largest reading celebration sponsored by the National Education Association.

“The site of the kickoff event is fitting because of its uniqueness that celebrates fun and brings out the kid in all of us—just as Dr. Seuss did with the magic of the written word,” said NEA President Reg Weaver. “As millions of people get ready to curl up with a good book on Read Across America Day, we are reminded why our program is so special: it makes reading fun!”

The Cat-a-Van—one of three—will depart Atlanta and travel throughout the nation’s Southeast corridor to bring the gift of reading to local students. Other stops include Augusta, Ga., Columbia, S.C., Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla. The tour continues throughout the Sunshine State as part of “Read Across Spring Training” with Major League Baseball teams getting into the reading game. The message the Cat-a-Vans plan to deliver along their routes:  Read, read, read!

“As those working on the frontlines every day to ensure great public schools for every Georgia child, educators know that reading ability is a key indicator of a student’s present and future academic success,” said Georgia Association of Educators President Jeff Hubbard. “That is why efforts like Read Across America are not only a lot of fun, but also important for fostering the joys of reading and the value of literacy in our students.”

The read-in attracted some celebrity guest readers including Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Renardo Foster, WNBA legend Rushia Brown and Bobbie Porche, the director of constituent services in the Office of the Mayor.

The other two tours, kicking off in Austin and Chicago, will cover more than 1,200 miles in 11 states.  During the cat trek, the tours will visit more than 18 cities in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas to provide more than 12,000 books and thousands in cash grants to public school libraries, thanks to a generous donation from NEA’s Books Across America, a program that raises funds for school libraries in need. 

More than 45 million are expected to participate in the 11th annual Read Across America Day, celebrated this year on Monday, March 3. Visit www.nea.org/readacross for additional information on the Cat-a-Van tours and a listing of events happening from coast-to-coast to celebrate NEA’s Read Across America.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Contact:  Staci Maiers  (202) 822-7823