Celebrate Read Across America

In Tewksbury, the whole town gets into the spirit

Read Across America

From left, Tewksbury Teachers Association members Colleen Allison, a reading specialist, and teachers Kathy Carleton and Robyn Hakala read the Dr. Seuss story “Happy Birthday to You!” to Dewing Elementary School students.

At the Loella F. Dewing Elementary School in Tewksbury, celebrating Dr. Seuss is a two-week event that involves the whole community.

Pre-reading and reading are a welcome part of the daily routine for students at the preK-2 school, first-grade teacher Kathy Carleton noted. But Read Across America — which is formally celebrated on March 2 — is even more special, as are the days that follow.

“We celebrate Read Across America for a lot of reasons,” said Carleton, who has been a teacher for more than 20 years. “Number one is to promote reading. Second, Dr. Seuss was a Massachusetts resident; we like to celebrate people from Massachusetts and all of the great things they have done.”

The third reason is simple, she said: “What student doesn’t love Dr. Seuss?”

The idea for a national day dedicated to literacy was hatched in 1997 at the National Education Association, which chose the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel — known byreaders around the world as Dr. Seuss — as the date.

Some Read Across America events are woven into tradition at Dewing and some have come and gone. One year, educators brought in bubble wrap. As Dr. Seuss’s “Hop on Pop” was being read aloud, the students stomped on the wrap in the hallways. “That was fun — but very loud,” said Carleton.

Smaller wrap was brought in for any students sensitive to loud noises so they could step on the bubbles in the relative quiet of their classrooms.

Bringing in the community impresses on the children that no matter what they become in life, reading plays a major part.

One year, Tewksbury’s first responders were invited. Fire and police officers and EMTs were on hand, as were members of the military services and the School Committee. In past years, the town manager and other municipal officers have been invited — and Boston Marathon runners were on hand for an RAA celebration.

One of the most popular events has been “Read Across the Dewing,” with the students sitting in the hallway enjoying sustained silent reading.

“Everyone just drops everything and reads,” Carleton said. “The kids love it.”

With all the activities surrounding Read Across America Day, students and their families get the message about the importance of reading.

Suggestions, resources and reading lists are available at nea.org/readacross. The site features a poster; the Read Across America song, oath and poem; and a link to the Dr. Seuss “Cat-a-log.” NEA’s Read Across America Facebook page offers even more ideas.