MONTVILLE, NJ – William Mason Elementary School students had a very special kickoff to Read Across America week when the Cat in the Hat made a special appearance at the school on Feb. 22.

Read Across America is a celebration in honor of Dr. Seuss which encourages students to read. It is centered around the March 2 birthday of the author, and libraries and schools around the country celebrate with events which “celebrate the fun and value of reading,” according to a release from the National Education Association. This is the event’s 16th year.

“The multi-purpose room is decorated with posters decorated with Dr. Seuss scenes done by third-, fourth- and fifth-graders during their media classes,” said special education teacher Kaitlyn Tierney. “When the kids came in this morning after getting off the buses, they were examining them with their hands behind their backs as though the room were an art gallery. The artists did a great job!”

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Music teacher Steven Fit had taught the students the song “Dr. Seuss We Love You,” which the whole school sang in the assembly.

See a snippet of the song here:

Then six fifth-graders presented a performance of the book “The Cat in the Hat.” Sophia Istvan played the mischievous cat, while Maxwell Iaci played Billy. Alyssa Longobardi played the exasperated fish to Katrina Eagan and Payton McKillips’ Thing 1 and Thing 2. Clara Li played the mother and Reading Specialist Maria Millan played sister Sally.

The Cat came in to shouts of laughter and high-fives as the children recognized the beloved character. He presented the school with an “autographed” copy of the book “If I Ran the Zoo.”

The Cat’s visit was made possible by the New Jersey Education Association and is portrayed by teachers who don the seven-foot costume, according to NJEA Read Across America Coordinator Christy Kanaby.

Media Specialist Wanda Vogel then treated the kids to a high-speed, tongue-bending reading of the book Fox in Socks.