RARITAN TWP., NJ –Students at Francis A. Desmares school donned pajamas and carried blankets and stuffed animals as they enjoyed an evening story time event, followed by cookies and milk in the cafeteria on March 2.

That day is recognized across the country as Read Across America day, an annual event that encourages reading motivation and awareness and calls for every child in every community to celebrate.

During the evening, fourth-grade teacher Jodi Brush introduced Det. Ed Pawlick and his K-9 Finn from the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office. Together, they read a story about safety.

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Finn demonstrated his skills, including speaking and chasing, as he beat a teacher in several races across the gym. The students learned about staying safe and appreciated the hard work and training of detectives and police dogs.

The night also featured special guest readers, including Superintendent Dr. Maryrose Caulfield; Board of Education Members Jessica Abbott and Laurie Markowski; Flemington Fire Marshall David Turner; Flemington Mayor Phil Greiner; and Desmares teachers, school staff, PTO officers and volunteers. The PTO also held a Book Swap as children exchanged old and used books with one another.

During the school day at Reading-Fleming Intermediate School, events included a Dr. Seuss-inspired writing contest, guest speakers who shared their love of reading – including two local mayors and a retired naval officer –  student-created balloons and bookmarks based on the book representing the theme and an interactive bulletin board that challenged students to guess where around the world pictures of teachers were taken.

"Seuss-isms," or words of wisdom from Dr. Seuss, were shared by students.  Students were greeted in our foyer with music from The Seussical soundtrack and they started the day with a school-wide "read-in" in PJs.

Three teachers transformed themselves into The Cat in the Hat as they did drop-in classroom visits throughout the day to generate a love of reading.

The first Read Across America was held in 1998, a creation of the National Education Association. Its founders decided that if pep rallies could be held to promote football, Read Across America could be held to promote reading.