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NEA kicks off 13th Annual Read Across America Day at Library of Congress with First Lady Michelle Obama

Secretary of Education, Librarian of Congress, NEA leaders and members of Congress read to kids

WASHINGTON - March 02, 2010 -

The National Education Association today, joined by First Lady Michelle Obama along with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel and members of Congress, read their favorite Dr. Seuss books to nearly 300 Arlington, Va. and District of Columbia elementary school students. The event celebrated Dr. Seuss’ 106th birthday, and kicked off the Association’s national Read Across America campaign, where an estimated 45 million educators, parents, and students are expected to participate in events nationwide.

“On Dr. Seuss’ birthday I think it’s fitting that we celebrate the significance of reading. As parents it’s important that we continue to highlight its benefits. Reading not only brings families together but it prepares our children for a lifetime of learning,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.

The gleeful first through third graders, wearing the Cat in the Hat trademark red and white stovepipe hats, were treated to the antics of Thing 1 and Thing 2 and the nearly 7-foot-tall Cat in the Hat. Mrs. Obama and Secretary Duncan stressed the importance of reading and led students in a pledge to read every day.

 “We are honored that the First Lady, Secretary Duncan and members of Congress could be with us today to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday and encourage our students to read,” said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “Reading opens up a whole new world of opportunities to children. Since coming to Washington, Michelle Obama has made it her mission to read to students around the Washington, D.C. area and entice them to grab those opportunities.”

Following the Library of Congress event the celebration continues as NEA is once again revving its engines to put the “across” in Read Across America. NEA’s fifth annual “Cat-a-Van Reading Tour” is hitting the road with a message: Read, Read, Read! This year, the Cat-a-Vans will travel to the Midwest featuring signature events in Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin on March 2-4, bringing the gift of reading to hundreds of schoolchildren.

NEA will also sponsor a reading event for New York City schoolchildren on March 4 as part of the WNET’s Celebration of Teaching and Learning Conference. Nationwide, NEA’s state and local affiliates are sponsoring Read Across America events all week.

“Reading sparks children’s imagination and creative potential,” said Dr. Billington.
“When you open a book, you open the door to new worlds.  The Library of Congress joins the First Lady, Secretary Duncan and the NEA in celebrating the joy of reading on this special day.” 

Sponsored by NEA, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. and more than 50 national partner organizations, Read Across America is a year-round literacy campaign designed to motivate children to read by making it fun.  It culminates every year on the birthday of Dr. Seuss, the beloved children’s book author. This year, NEA’s Read Across America Day is March 2.  More than 45 million children and adults are expected to pick up a book and read that day as part of the celebration, now in its 13th year.

“No one should underestimate the importance of reading. If adults need to read to children every day and encourage them to read on their own, they’ll be laying the foundation for success in school and in life,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “I’m honored to join First Lady Michelle Obama, the National Education Association, and volunteers across the country for Read Across America. We should make sure we read across America every day.”

For more information: To view photos of the event, click here.

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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: Celeste Busser
(202) 822-7823,