However Big, However Small, Read Across America Is a Day for Us All!

Happy Friday, RMT’ers! And Happy Read Across America week to many of you, too, whether you celebrated this week or last week! Our school chose to commemorate the occasion last week (Feb. 24-to-28) before Theodor Seuss Geisel’s (AKA Dr. Seuss’) birthday (which was March 2 and fell on a Sunday this year). I didn’t think this year’s events could be any more fun than we had last year, but I was more than happy to be proved wrong!

Our co-chairs kicked of Read Across America week with some wonderful words and artwork.

Our co-chairs kicked of Read Across America week with some wonderful words and artwork.

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First, the school kicked off the week at Monday morning assembly. The co-chairs stepped up to the stage enthusiastically to promote and educate students and staff with fun Dr. Seuss facts, along with encouraging all of us – kids, parents, and staff – to read whenever and where ever possible. Yay for books!

This was our classroom's book box at the end of the first day of donations.

This was our classroom’s book box just after the first day of donations. Great work, kids!

And speaking of yay for books, our school also held a “Milk + Bookies” book-raiser donation drive in conjunction with the other on-campus reading events to benefit a local homeless shelter that literally told us that they had no books for the children. I can’t even imagine kids who haven’t a single book, so I can’t even begin to imagine the looks on their faces once they realize that they now are going to be knee-deep in books, books, books, and all thanks to our littlest givers. The drive encouraged the students to go through their existing libraries and part with one or two (or 10) gently used books that they no longer needed, so not only was it a charitable drive but a eco-friendly one as well.

T fills out his book-plate for his Milk + Bookies donation.

T fills out his book-plate for his Milk + Bookies donation.

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The “Milk + Bookies” program also puts children giving to one another directly and locally at the forefront of their cause. That philosophy not only allows givers to make their donations feel more personalized by allowing them to inscribe a book-plate with their gift(s), but it also aims to connect kids on the receiving end with someone right at their age level in their own community. I love that an organization exists that helps children personalize giving. While we always strive to be a charitable, generous family, oftentimes that connection can be lost just by simply tossing some toys into a bin. Kudos to the Milk + Bookies folks for recognizing that kid donors have the ability to be treated just the same as their parental counterparts.

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We had a wonderful "Cat in the Hat" volunteer at our school for Read Across America Day 2014.

We had a wonderful “Cat in the Hat” volunteer at our school for Read Across America Day 2014.

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That reminds me… the theme of our Read Across America week this year was, “A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small.” What a perfect choice all things considered. The kids were all asked by our very own “Cat in the Hat” what that theme meant to them. Answers like, “It means I have a voice, feelings,” and, “Just because I’m a kid doesn’t mean I’m not a person,” were said and heard over and over again. Thanks for the reminder, kids. Sometimes we parents can forget that kids, even our own, are people, too.

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Each child also had the option to purchase a fun “Cat in the Hat”-style hat for the day’s events.

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I think that the co-chairs drew and colored much of the decorations used in this year’s Read Across America events. WOW!

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Even a simple display of Dr. Seuss books makes for fabulous decor on Read Across America Day.

And onto the highlight of the week: Read Across America Day! Last Friday our school’s library was transformed into a Dr. Seuss-ville of epic proportions. Our co-chairs really did a fantastic job with the Dr. Seuss-themed decor and design, above and beyond really.

Each class (T’s Kindergarten pictured here with one of the moms reading aloud) got about 20-30 minutes of reading-to on Read Across America Day.

Hey, who's that Cat in the Hat hiding back there?!

Hey, who’s that “Cat in the Hat” hiding back there?!

C read to the school's TK class on Read Across America Day.

C read to the school’s TK class on Read Across America Day.

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I'm not sure who had more fun... the TK audience or their reader, C.

I’m not sure who had more fun… the TK audience or their reader, who just happens to be C!

Throughout the day, each classroom had a turn in the library to sit and listen to a couple of stories read aloud by one of about 15 different parent volunteers. C even got in on the reading fun by getting up in front of the Transitional Kindergarten class! T’s class already had two of their own wonderful moms signed up to read to them already, but C felt it important that not only moms read to the kids but also that some dads and other guys get up there, too. I think he had as good of a time (if not better) as those TK students also.

A BARK volunteer human and her volunteer pup read at our school as part of our Read Across America events.

A BARK human-and-pup volunteer team read at our school as part of our Read Across America events.

First graders were extra-lucky enough to have the BARK program come and read to them. Founded in 2007 BARK, which stands for “Beach Area Reading with Kids,” is an active local organization based in Long Beach (CA) composed of an all-volunteer group that encourages children to increase their reading skills and self-confidence by reading aloud to certified therapy dogs. From their website: “Students find it intimidating to read in front of classmates, but love to read to the non-judgmental, calming dogs. BARK now has 170 teams listening to kids in more than 100 schools and libraries in California. BARK teams also visit nursing homes, senior living facilities, veterans’ centers, and even de-stress college students during finals week.”

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Thanks again to our wonderful Read Across America co-chairs, our volunteers, school staff, and other sponsors for a fun and educational week filled with books, reading, generosity, and enrichment!

RMT’ers, how did you commemorate Read Across America 2014? We are always looking for new and exciting ideas to add to our own celebrations, be it at school or amongst friends! Special thanks to the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity and to Gelson’s Long Beach for their generous donations to help make our school’s event an A+ affair. And I can’t say it enough but thanks again to our two co-chairs for such a wonderful week, especially  my friend A who worked her butt off to make sure all the kids and us volunteers had a blast at every turn. Mwah!

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