EDISON, NJ - The nation's largest reading event was celebrated by Edison students, teachers, parents and others this during the week of March 2 which coincides with the great children's author, Dr. Seuss' 111 birthday.

The event frequently stretches over a week in order to accommodate the large number of classes that wish to participate.

“On Read Across America Day, Washington School welcomed community leaders, retired teachers, Rutgers athletes, and parents for a "community read-in" for the first half of our school day,” Dalia Mirrione, principal said. “Students are thrilled to hear Dr. Seuss classics as well as other colorful stories read aloud by our special guests.”

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In Edison Township, members of the Board of Education, including Debbie Anes, Veena Iyer, Dr. Frank Heelan, Beth Moroney, and Theresa Ward have visited most of the elementary schools to read to Edison students.

Many of the chief administrators in the district, including school superintendent, Dr. Richard O'Malley and assistant superintendents, Margaret De Luca, Christopher Conklin, and Tara Beam have appeared in schools to read to the youngsters as well.

Jeff Bowden, president of the Edison Township Teachers Association, made the rounds at several schools during the Read across America Week.

“I've been to Menlo Park Elementary, Ben Franklin Elementary, James Madison Primary and Elementary," Bowden said. "I find it the most rewarding experience that I have during the school year.” 

Dr. Frank Heelan enjoys sharing a sing-along book with the students. He first reads the book “How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck” to the students and reviews some of the more sophisticated vocabulary including composite words. He then plays a CD with the story put to music and has the learners sing it with him.

“Sometimes the children even dance to it because they are so enthusiastic,” Heelan said. “When I read, I try to be dramatic to keep their attention.”

“Casey at Bat” is another book that is a successful read with the students “The kids like the rhyme in the book and because it is about baseball it is always a popular choice,” Heelan added. “However, the students are not too happy when they find out that Casey struck out!”

Debbie Anes shares an excellent book, “How To Take Your Grandmother to the Museum,” that she purchased at the Museum of Natural History. Since most children do not have previous familiarity with this particular book, the learners are very receptive to the subject matter. I

n the story the child escorts his grandmother to a museum, to which she has never been. Anes explains to the young listeners that the story is one of “role reversal.” Usually it is the adult who takes a child to a new place, but here the child is taking the lead role.

To Anes, Read Across America is a wonderful opportunity, not only to share stories with children, but to teach them life lessons as well. Anes agrees that Read Across America is one of the most rewarding experiences of being a Board of Education member.

“I love to go into the classrooms and meet the students. I always stress the importance of reading in the children's lives and tell them that everything they do in their futures ultimately depends on reading,” Anes said. “I point out to them that even reading the street signs like 'Stop,' is important to them, and many of them have never considered that reading, but it is.”

Beth Moroney has read several books to the younger classes, including “Amelia Bedelia” and “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

“I make the readings interactive,” Moroney said. “I have the students act out certain words like 'smooshed' and 'scrunched.' After the readings we discuss the subject of the book, and how certain words can be interpreted figuratively or literally.”

Moroney enjoys reading Chapter 1 of Harry Potter to the older classes.

“No matter how many times you read Harry Potter, you always find something new in it,” Moroney told the 5th grade classes at Menlo Park and JMI.

 “Literacy unlocks students' opportunities for success and serves as the portal to all their future learning, so planning a memorable day to celebrate and recommit to empowering our children is well worth all of our efforts.” Mirrione concluded.

For more information and activities that you can share with your children to celebrate Read Across America, which is sponsored by the National Education Association, go to www.seussville.com