The iconic red and white-striped top hat worn by one of Dr. Seuss’s most beloved characters will be showing up in first grade classrooms across Richmond County on March 2.
Each year, the national “Read Across America” event falls on the birthday of the acclaimed children’s author. Volunteers organized by the Richmond County Literacy Council will go into schools and read Seuss’s “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut” to all of the 1st grade students. Volunteers, and many educators, dress up as the Cat in the Hat for the day.
“It’s one of the things that the Literacy Council does to bring awareness of reading to the kids; they get really excited about it,” said Jody Coward, president of the council’s board.
“The council serves many adults who can’t read, or who aren’t able to read above a certain level. This gets the kids started early and gets them enthusiastic about reading, and going into the library to check out books and read them on their own. Reading is an on-going, lifelong process, and you have to begin at a young age.”
Each child is given a new “Clifford the Big Red Dog” book.
“I love it because you can see the excitement on the children’s faces. They ask questions and you can see how attentive they are,” said Sharon Harris, the council’s program coordinator and lead teacher.
“They are so happy to get that book, they are proud of it. They start talking about books, saying ‘I got this one’ or ‘I read this one.’ They really communicate about the story.”
According to Coward, the books are bought through donations to the council. The purchase of this year’s supply was made entirely possible by Pam Easterling.
“We rely on sponsors to pay for the books and volunteers to read the books every year,” said Coward. “They’re the ones that deserve all the credit. And the educators really go all out some of them will dress up like the Cat in the Hat with make-up and a suit and everything.”
According to council member Lee Ann Sago, the National Education Association’s initiative is made local through the partnership that the Literacy Council has with Richmond County Schools.
“It’s a real collaborative effort, and that’s neat,” said Sago.
“This is absolutely one of my favorite things that the council does.”
“Being here in the community, I see every day what the down side is of not being able to read. People would definitely be surprised at how many people can’t read. It is pretty staggering.
“We’re curbing that by providing books that, a lot of times, may be the only books that kids have in their homes. Their parents may not have the time or resources to encourage them to read. We didn’t have anything like this when I was in school.”
For more information about Read Across America, contact the Richmond County Literacy Council at 895-0338.