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Millions will join NEA’s Read Across America Day celebration on March 2

The First Lady and celebrities join students for Library of Congress kickoff Event

WASHINGTON - February 26, 2011 -

From Seussville to Who-ville and Oh, those many great places in between, the Cat in the Hat will help put reading on the map. The 14th annual NEA’s Read Across America Day—the nationwide party with a purpose that gets kids of all ages excited about reading—is expected to draw more than 45 million participants on Wednesday, March 2. 

“NEA’s Read Across America has become an annual tradition in schools and communities in every state across the country. What began as a few reading parties 14 years ago has grown into a huge national literacy event,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “While we take a fun and lighthearted approach to our Read Across America celebrations, we do so with a serious purpose in mind: to encourage a love of reading. As educators, we know that students who read—and are read to—do better in school and in life.”

NEA’s 2011 Read Across America celebrity kick-off event is set for Wednesday, March 2, at the Library of Congress. First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and 15 celebrities will read to hundreds of local students. Parenting magazine will be joining in the celebration.

NEA’s Read Across America—sponsored by the 3.2 million-member National Education Association, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., Random House Children’s Publishing, and more than 50 national partnering organizations—promotes literacy year-round. Every March 2, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, NEA members nationwide host school and community events designed to pay homage to the beloved children’s book author and to get the nation’s young people excited about reading.

NEA again revs up its engines for the Read Across America “Cat-a-Van Reading Tour” which will bring the gift of reading to NEA’s Priority Schools in Iowa and North Carolina. NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign, the Association’s flagship effort to help transform low-performing schools, encourages state and local affiliates, parents, community leaders, education advocates, policymakers and businesses to work together to help students achieve.  In past years, Cat-a-Vans have toured from coast to coast, visiting schoolchildren from Florida to Washington, New York to Arizona, and all points in between.

In New York City, Target hosted a reading takeover of Bryant Park and the New York Public Library on February 24 and filled an enormous sculpture with books for the city’s public school students and special guest readers. The event showcased Target's support for NEA's Read Across America activities and promotions for Seuss readings in its stores around the country.

In Orlando, Fla., Universal Orlando Resort is hosting elementary school students from local schools at Seuss Landing in Universal’s Islands of Adventure for a day of Seussian storytelling and celebrations. Universal Orlando’s celebration of NEA's Read Across America and Dr. Seuss's birthday will feature a cast of favorite Seuss characters and VIP reader Nick Anderson from the Orlando Magic. Other schoolchildren in the park that day will also be encouraged to participate in the program.

Across the country and around the world, deployed members of the military will don red-and-white stovepipe hats and read to their children and families. Thanks to Read Across America partner United Through Reading, the “Cat in the Hat” readings will be recorded, and the DVDs will be shipped to service members’ loved ones back home.

“Good reading skills are a long-term investment in a student’s success,” said Van Roekel. “NEA’s Read Across America brings students, parents, educators and the entire community together to share the joy of reading. NEA provides tools, resources and tips for parents and educators that make reading a fun and enjoyable experience so kids will keep turning pages.” 

Since 1997, NEA’s Read Across America has attracted some of the biggest names in politics, entertainment and sports to help children discover the joy of reading.  In addition to First Lady Michelle Obama, past celebrity participants have included Carrie Underwood, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alex Rodriguez, Serena Williams, Selena Gomez and Shaquille O’Neal.

A complete media kit, photos, video footage and other Seuss-tastic downloads are available to the media at  The website also offers reading tips, book lists and information on local events.

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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,