MILLTOWN, NJ - The students and staff of the Parkview School capped off an exciting week of reading activities with a Character Parade in honor of Read Across America Week. A week of fun kicked off on Dr. Seuss' birthday with Mrs. Magnuson Day. Kathy Magnuson, a popular teacher who retired from Milltown's preschool through third grade school, returned on Monday, March 2 to read to students and get the week-long reading party started.

The National Education Association christened Read Across America Day on March 2, 1988. Their goal was to throw the biggest celebration to honor the joys of reading and center it around one of the most recognizable children's book authors of all time. Seuss published more than 60 books throughout his long career. Many schools like Parkview turned the one-day reading bonanza into a five-day reading extravaganza.

On Tuesday, Parkview students had a Buddy Reading Day. In honor of wacky Wednesday, teachers spent a little time teaching different classes and grade levels and on Thursday community readers came in to read to students. Friday's Character Parade was the final event of the week.

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Amy Klinger, the Media Specialist for the Parkview and Joyce Kilmer Schools, arranged the Read Across America festivities. This is Klinger's first year as a media specialist for the district. She previously taught third grade at the Parkview School. As the Milltown District's Media Specialist, Klinger spends four days at Parkview and one day at Joyce Kilmer. Joyce Kilmer students also had guest readers stop by for Read Across America Week.

"Read Across America week is an opportunity to reinforce how much we can learn from reading, but also how much fun reading can be," Klinger explained. "It really hits home for students when we get to dive a little bit deeper into our favorite stories and make learning come alive with fun activities. Additionally, when the students see the teachers and staff participating in those same fun activities it drives the message home even more. By creating these memories for students we’re beginning to solidify the importance of reading in our daily lives, and really develop a culture of reading at our school."

Klinger reached out to the community to have a wide range of guest readers come in and share books with students. Milltown Mayor Trina Mehr and members of the Milltown Borough Council came by to read their favorite stories to students, but the biggest hit of the week were the student/athletes from nearby Rutgers University. Members of the Scarlet Knights' rowing and soccer teams were on hand to read and made a big impression on the young students.

Friday's character parade featured a wide array of books from the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" to "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to "The Day the Crayons Quit" and beyond. Each class picked the book to be featured in the parade and spent the week creating costumes to showcase the story. Following a parade around the school, all the classes met in the library for a read-in before returning to their classrooms to pack up for the day.

In the spirit of the event, Klinger dressed as Miss Viola Swamp from the much-loved Miss Nelson children's books by Harry Allard. Even though Read Across America Week concluded on Friday, Parkview students will continue to learn about the joys of becoming a lifelong reader from the district's newest librarian and their teachers.

"This year I was excited to introduce World Read Aloud Day to the students," Klinger said, explaining the other reading activities the students participate in. "I set up a flipgrid and asked students to share their favorite read alouds. They absolutely loved it! Students created over 170 videos that were viewed over 5,000 times."

"This year we had a competition to pick one of our favorite read alouds," Klinger continued. "Each day during the week of November 11 the students listened to or read one of the stories from this Smore Newsletter I created. Then Thursday afternoon every student in the school voted to determine the winner. Finally, on Friday, our previous librarian, Mrs. Wright, who just retired last year, came to read the winning choice to the students. It was another great way to promote reading and spend some time with an old friend."

"This summer we are also working on a project in conjunction with the Milltown Public Library called Tales with your Teacher as a way to promote reading over the summer," Klinger added. "Guest teachers will volunteer their time to come and read to students and share some fun activities that go along with each book. We’ll also be promoting our summer reading list and encouraging students to get public library cards."