Next week, schools across not only Wilson County, but also the state and the nation, will celebrate “Read Across America.”
The yearly event, which began in 1998, happens on, or as near as possible to, Theodore Geisel’s – better known as Dr. Seuss’s – birthday, March 2. It was created by the National Education Association. Several area schools will be participating with guest readers and other activities.
Interim Director of Schools Mary Ann Sparks will be one of those guests.
“I’ve been invited to read at Mt. Juliet Elementary Monday,” she said. “When I was at the elementary school, we used to look forward to it.”
The guest readers choose a favorite book from Dr. Seuss’s collection to read to students. Also, in many schools teachers and students will dress up as characters from various books. The famous hat worn by the title character in Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” is often worn by teachers on the day.
According to the NEA, 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers who make up NEA membership, some 40 national organizations and associations give their support.
Another local school that has embraced the idea of Read Across America in a creative way is West Elementary.
Students and teachers held a competition to see who had the best decorations on the classroom door. Each classroom selected a Dr. Seuss book and dressed up their door appropriately. Some of the books included “The Lorax,” “Oh the Places You’ll Go” and “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket.”
As the schools in Wilson County are implementing the Common Core standards, which were adopted by the state in 2010, reading is getting a bigger focus.
Standards for reading for students in kindergarten include identifying characters, settings and major events in a story as well as asking and answering questions about key details in the text, as it is stated on the website corestandards.org, outlining Common Core standards.
When students reach middle school, some of the standards include “cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text,” according to the website.
Not only do local teachers and other officials stop by to read to the children on Read Across America Day, in recent years some of the Wilson County schools have been fortunate to have the likes of Sen. Mae Beavers and First Lady Crissy Haslam join in the fun and come read.
“It’s a day you can make books come alive,” said Sparks.