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NEA's Read Across America Cat-a-Van Tour Kicked Off in Austin as Part of Multistate Reading Tour

Cat in the Hat, national and local leaders visited Austin Children's Museum

AUSTIN, TEXAS - March 04, 2008 -

Driving the need to read, the Cat-a-Van tour made a stop on Friday at the Austin Children’s Museum to kick off the National Education Association’s Read Across America 11th year anniversary celebrations.

Students from Metz Elementary School were invited to the Austin Children’s Museum to share in the celebration in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday. A huge success, the event featured more than 200 kids participating in group readings, interactive museum activities related to the readings and a personalized photo session with the one and only Cat in the Hat. 

 State Rep. Mark Strama, State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, Deputy Sheriff Art Cardenas, and news anchors from three of four local television outlets served as celebrity/VIP readers, reading to the students in both English and Spanish. NEA Vice President Dennis Van Roekel and state and local leaders also took part in the event.

“Reading is the cornerstone of a successful education. For young people to get ahead in life, the ability to read is step one,” said NEA Vice President Dennis Van Roekel. “NEA’s Read Across America sends the message that reading is not just important, but also fun. There’s nothing like watching the expressions on children’s faces as they listen to someone read to them.” 

The local tour stop was one of many happening across the country as part of NEA’s Read Across America, the nation’s largest reading celebration.  The message the Cat-a-Vans deliver: Read, read, read! More than 45 million children and adults nationwide are expected to don the signature red and white striped stovepipe hat during a week of activities.

“We were thrilled to partner with the NEA on this nationwide reading celebration,” said Mike Nellis, executive director at ACM. “Strong literacy skills are the foundation on which we do our work to inspire the next generation of creative problem solvers.”

The Cat-a-Vans will continue through March 7.  The tours will visit more than 18 cities and provide an estimated 12,000 books and thousands in cash donations to public school libraries through generous donations from NEA’s Books Across America.  Launched in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, Books Across America provides books and cash grants to public schools in need.  More details on the program are available at .

But the reading fun doesn’t stop there!  The Cat-a-Van tours will travel to Florida for “Read Across Spring Training,” designed to bring reading fun to ballparks as Major League Baseball teams show they got game by hosting special read-ins for local children.

Since 1997, NEA’s Read Across America has attracted some of the biggest celebrities in entertainment and sports to help children discover the joy of reading.  Past celebrity participants include Morgan Freeman, Garth Brooks, James Earl Jones, Amanda Bynes, Serena Williams, Tiki Barber and Michelle Williams.

“As our friends in Seussville put it so well, ‘You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child,’” said Texas State Teachers Association President Donna New Haschke.  “The Read Across America celebration is a great time to do that. But so, too, is every other day of the year.”

Visit for more reading tips, booklists and information on local events happening nationwide.  Photos, video footage, public service announcements and other Seuss-tastic downloads are available to the media by contacting NEA Public Relations at (202) 822-7823 or .


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: Michelle Hudgins  (202) 822-7823