Dr. Seuss once said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
This philosophy of learning through reading is celebrated annually on or around March 2, the birthdate of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, whose rhymes and characters were brought to life through more than 60 children’s books, including his iconic The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.
Since 1998, Seuss and his books have been shared with millions of elementary and middle school students through Read Across America Day , a nationwide initiative established by the National Education Association to motivate children to read.
This year, three Research Center employees -- Erika Minella, Jacquelynn Garofano and Larry Zeidner -- helped fulfill that mission by spending time in their local communities reading Suess’ last work: What Pet Should I Get? as part of the 19th annual Read Across America Day. They were among more than 120 volunteers throughout the state who spent a portion of their day reading to 1,600-plus students, from kindergarten through third grade level.
“My interaction with curious first graders was heartwarming and inspirational,” said Minella, UTRC Communications, who shared What Pet Should I Get? at Silver Lane Elementary School in East Hartford. “I saw such enthusiasm among the volunteers; they really embraced the spirit of the book and the day.”
“Volunteer opportunities like this are so important,” said Garofano, Measurement Sciences, Physical Sciences Department. “Children learn to read, and then they are required to read to learn…yet there’s a majority of students who fall short of this milestone. Research shows that a child’s early school years are pivotal in terms of mastering literacy; if students cannot read proficiently at an early age, they face daunting challenges to succeed in school and beyond.”
She added, “The short time that we spend reading to and engaging with these young students can make a difference. I really enjoy volunteer opportunities like this because it’s a lot of fun and the kids are so excited.”
Connecticut’s Read Across America Day was sponsored by United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut (as part of its United Way volunteer reader program ) together with East Hartford, Hartford and New Britain public schools.