“When you’re able to unleash the ability to read … it opens so many doors for students.” Kevin Harrington principal Sandy Plains Elementary School
If you learned to love reading at an early age, you may have Dr. Seuss to thank for that.
Last Thursday, schools across Dundalk marked the birthday of the famed children’s author, whose well-loved books are a welcome antidote to the dull Dick and Jane primers of years past.
The celebrations were part of the nationwide Read Across America Day. The event was established in 1997 by the National Education Association as a way to honor Seuss’ contributions and promote literacy, primarily among elementary school students.
While celebrations occurred across the area, at Norwood and Sandy Plains elementary schools, students marked the day with visits from volunteers recruited by the United Way of Central Maryland (UWCM).
For the fourth year, UWCM dispatched volunteers to 17 schools and community centers across the region — Baltimore City and County, as well as Howard, Harford, Carroll and Anne Arundel counties — to read their favorite Dr. Seuss books to students.
Franklyn Baker, president and CEO of UWCM, was on hand at Norwood last week to witness the event firsthand.
“I really, really like this,” Baker told the Eagle. “It’s so great to get the kids involved in this kind of interaction.”
More than 30 organizations offered volunteers for the day, Baker noted, including Johns Hopkins, One Main Financial and iFly Indoor Skydiving.
“It’s great to see the community get involved in this way,” Baker said.
Norwood Elementary dedicated the entire week to celebrating the works of Dr. Seuss.
Each day, students and staff dressed up based on themes from different Dr. Seuss works, and the Parent-Teacher Association hosted a book bingo for Norwood families.
The aim of the weeklong event, according to first grade special educator Kim Morgan, is “to get kids to love reading.”
Reading, she noted, lays the foundation for lifetime learning.
“It’s the only way to be successful in life,” she added.
Like Norwood, Sandy Plains students and staff spent the week celebrating reading and Dr. Seuss.
Each of the first grade teachers decorated their classroom doors based on a Dr. Seuss book — from The Cat in the Hat to The Lorax.
UWCM volunteers were also on hand at Sandy Plains last Thursday to read to students and lead them in activities based on the works of Dr. Seuss.
“It’s a fun day because it promotes the love of reading,” principal Kevin Harrington said of the celebration.
While the school has had a partnership with UWCM, this marks the first year volunteers have participated in Read Across America Day at the school.
Reading, Harrington noted, is “one of the foundational skills” for students at the elementary level.
“When you’re able to unleash the ability to read … it opens so many doors for students,” he said.
At Edgemere and Battle Grove elementary schools, students got the chance to hear their favorite Seuss tales as read by students from nearby Sparrows Point Middle School.
Sixth grade student Eric Coates read Horton Hears a Who! to first-graders at Edgemere Elementary.
“It’s fun,” he said of the experience, adding, “It’s cool to interact with all the younger kids.”
For Aimee Farrell, a librarian at Sparrows Point Middle, the event was a way to build a bridge between the elementary and middle schools in the small, close-knit area.
She noted, “We’re a community.”
Reporter Virginia Terhune contributed to this report.
Follow me on Twitter @Nrodman_Eagle.