BRISTOL, Tenn. — Characters from the beloved Dr. Seuss books “The Cat in Hat,” “Horton Hears a Who,” “Fox in Socks” and others turned up Friday at Avoca Elementary School.
The characters were portrayed by teachers, staff and students as the school participated in the annual Read Across America Day.
Avoca Elementary School Principal Vonda Beavers, who was dressed as the main character from “The Cat in the Hat,” said having a day set aside for community members to read to students is one of her favorites.
“No matter how old the students are they enjoy being read to,” she said. “When people in the community take time out of their day to read to the students, it reinforces to them how important — and fun — reading is.”
Read Across America Day — observed across the nation for almost 20 years to promote reading to children — coincides with the birthday of children’s author Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel, who wrote books under the pen name Dr. Seuss.
Former Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey was sitting in a rocking chair reading to 61 first-graders from the class of his grandson, Parker Tinsley.
“You can think about red, you can think about pink, you can think of a horse, oh the things you can think,” he read from “Oh, the Thinks you can Think,” while Parker rested his head on his paw-paw’s shoulder.
Ramsey said he believes reading to children is so important that he has participated in Read Across America for years.
“I read to my grandkids as much as I can, and when I was in Nashville I made it a point to visit the schools there to read to the kids,” Ramsey said. “Reading to kids helps their brains to develop. And I was glad to be here today to read to Parker’s class.”
Down the hall in Laura Carrier’s class, 20 fourth-graders were riveted as they listened to Bristol Tennessee Curriculum Specialist Tracy Easterling read the book “Math Curse” by Jon Sciezka and Lane Smith.
The book, one of Easterling’s favorites, is the tale of a little girl afflicted with a math curse after her teacher tells the class they can think of almost everything as a math problem.
The students shouted out answers as Easterling read, “How many quarts are in a gallon?” And they laughed when she read, “If an M&M is about one centimeter long, and the Mississippi River is about 4,000 kilometers long, how many M&Ms would it take to measure the length of this river?’”
Fourth-grader Jonah Smith said he enjoys being read to.
“It’s different than me reading a book,” he said. “And I really like figuring out the answers to the math curse.”
First-graders Sadie Daniels, Ty Kinch, Rylee Fitts and Bailey Vance agreed that the day is one of their favorites.
“We get to dress up, and people come and read to us,” Sadie said with a grin. “It’s just fun.”
Bailey chimed in. “My favorite book is ‘Fox in Socks,’” Ty said as Rylee nodded in agreement.
Avoca Librarian and Media Specialist Sarah Cross said the event takes months of preparation.
“I called about 60 people to read this year, and out of those 46 were able to come,” she said. “It takes a lot of time to find volunteers to read, set up the schedules, and make sure everything is set up for day.”
But she said it’s all worth it because “the students enjoy it so much. We want them to be voracious readers and for a lot of them Read Across America Day is the day their love of reading begins.”