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Read Across America: A Day to Say Reading is More Than OK!

 She has helped many a child down life’s road

And has pointed them in a direction to succeed         

Just implanting a desire within their souls

The desire to pick up a book and read

                                                   ~The Bookworm by Dave Arnold


Read Across America: A Day to Say Reading is More Than Just OK!

By Dave Arnold

To most adults March 2nd is just another day, but for the past 12 years every child and educator has known that this is Theodor Seuss Geisel’s birthday. Oh — don’t recall that name, Geisel? How about Dr. Seuss? Now you have it! He had a long career, writing and publishing 46 children's books, characterized by imaginative characters and rhyme. And we celebrate his birth and work through the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day.

The NEA’s goal of building a nation of readers through this signature program is now in its thirteenth year. It is a year-round program, focusing on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources.

The topper for each year is a national reading celebration on or near March 2, Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Across the country, thousands of schools, libraries, and community centers participate by bringing together kids, teens, and books — and you can too!

Download the latest RAA materials. You’ll find a calendar, guides for classroom activities, and a whole lot more.

The theme for the 2012 Read Across America celebration is “green,” and NEA’s RAA campaign will showcase the Lorax books as well as NBC/Universal’s The Lorax.

The stars of The Lorax are shining the spotlight on NEA's Read Across America. The cast, Taylor Swift, Zac Efron, Betty White, Danny DeVito, Ed Helms and Rob Riggle, are this year's honorary co-chairs and they have recorded two promotional videos for NEA. Some of them will join NEA President Dennis Van Roekel in New York for the March 2 national kickoff.

There’s more — and I’m proud to see these actions will provide much needed help to our schools.

To benefit public school libraries nationwide, NEA RAA and NEA Foundation have teamed up with Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) and Universal Studios. Mazda has pledged up to $1 million in support of these libraries through a unique test drive program. For each test drive of a Mazda vehicle between Feb. 21 and April 2, Mazda will donate $25 toward public school libraries nationwide, up to $1 million. Administered by the NEA Foundation, this donation will provide vital funds to help the nation’s struggling public school libraries. There is more information online. Be sure to tell all how to follow the rules to get the donations!

All of the above is just the tip of the iceberg for this year’s events. But as many of you know from years past, it is not just about one hour or one day of reading. This effort is about encouraging a lifetime of good reading habits that contribute to academic success for students. For me and thousands of other Education Support Professional (ESP) members of NEA, Read Across America is a time to have fun with the children we serve and to teach the importance of reading.

While I create a little fun in my school district, I’m just one of the thousands of ESP that help children celebrate Read Across America. I know competing with over 200 cable TV channels or a computer can be hard, but I believe it can be done when you add a bit of fun. To stress the importance of reading, I talk with students everyday and show them how reading is important to our work. I show older students some of my Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to demonstrate the importance of reading labels and instructions to do a job safely.

I question the students and ask what they think the most important subjects are. Math and science usually come out on top. They don’t always zero in on the most obvious --reading --as being the most important subject to master, but when the teachers and I and other ESPs point out to them that everything in life involves some degree of reading, the light bulbs turn on pretty quick. I deeply admire reading programs that make reading fun and rewarding for the students. That’s why I am big fan of our Read Across America project.

Dave Arnold:This school custodian and former Illinois Education Association ESP of the Year is a published poet. He works in Brownstown Community School District #201. But most Association members know him best from the editorials he has written for various NEA media properties since 2001.


Where can I get more information about NEA’s Read Across America and what else can I do to get involved?

  • Download the latest Read Across America materials.
  • Pledge your participation and let NEA know your plans for Read Across America Day 2012. You’ll be able to see your city on a Google map and read about other Read Across America activities around the country.
  • Check out the Read Across America public service announcement, featuring the Lorax cast and use this PSA link on your affiliate website and social media outlets.
  • Organize your own Read Across America celebrations in your school or community. Regardless of  whether you’re grabbing a hat to read with the Cat or going green, you’ll find tips and sample proclamations, invitations and e-vites to send to local leaders and guest readers.
  • Follow RAA on Facebook and Twitter. NEA’s Read Across America Facebook page features the latest pledges and we’ll be tweeting from RAA events around the country.
  • Share your photos and videos on Read Across America’s Flickr, SchoolTube and YouTube. Don’t forget to add a Read Across America hashtag!
  • Alert the media. Contacting local media outlets is the best way to promote your local Read Across America event and the work of your Association. You can find sample press releases on our NEA Read Across America web page.

If you use social media:

  • Follow RAA on Twitter
  • Tweet messages about Read Across America and reading/literacy. Be sure to use the @neareadacross handle and #neareads hashtag.
  • “Like” RAA on Facebook


Dave's View has been discontinued following the retirement of its author, Dave Arnold. Even though new columns will not be posted, we encourage you to review past columns.