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Hundreds of children celebrate Read Across New Orleans

NEA’s Read Across America program kicks off summer reading promotion


NEW ORLEANS - June 30, 2010 -

The National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel, joined by Louisiana Association of Educators President Joyce Haynes and Ralph Brennan of the Brennan Restaurant Group, read their favorite Dr. Seuss books today to more than 200 elementary school students at the Louisiana Children’s Museum.

“Good reading skills are the tools students can use to explore whatever they’re interested in,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “The goal of NEA’s Read Across America is to make reading fun so students want to be in the company of good books, again and again.”

The elementary students, wearing the Cat in the Hat trademark red-and-white stovepipe hats, were treated to the antics of Thing 1 and Thing 2 as well as a surprise visit by the seven-foot-tall Cat himself. New Orleans’ own Soul Heirs Band kicked off the festivities. Van Roekel got into the spirit of the event by leading students in a pledge to read every day.

“Studies show that students who read—and are read to—do better in school and in life,” points out LAE President Joyce Haynes.  “Teaching and learning can and should be fun.   It is good to give our students this memorable and fun educational experience.”

"We are thrilled that the National Education Association is sharing its Read Across America program with the children of New Orleans," said Julia Bland, executive director of the Louisiana Children's Museum. "The pages of a book open up a world of wonder, exploration and imagination to children everywhere. A lifetime of reading is the ticket to lifelong learning."

In support of NEA’s Read Across America summer reading initiative, the 12 New Orleans Public Libraries are also holding events to celebrate summer reading in Seussian style—from readings of favorite Seuss books to visits from the Cat in the Hat. The events are scheduled in conjunction with NEA’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly, taking place June 26 — July 6 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Nearly 9,000 public school educators from around the country are in town for the Annual Meeting.

Every year, an estimated 45 million young and old participate in NEA’s Read Across America— the nation’s largest reading celebration, which is now in its 13th year.  Celebrities who have joined in NEA-sponsored reading events include First Lady Michelle Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman, Selena Gomez, football Giant Tiki Barber and tennis superstar Serena Williams.

“Reading is essential to academic achievement, whether a student’s favorite subject is math, science, music or English,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  “NEA’s Read Across America cultivates a joy of reading in students at an early age to help create lifelong readers and learners.”

More information on NEA’s Read Across America and details on local events happening across New Orleans can be found online at www.nea.org/readacross.

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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) 262-0589, cfbusser@nea.org