Community reads Seuss to students

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With her Cat in the Hat garb, Amy Stadiem was all in for reading.

The Wilson County Schools adapted physical education teacher was one of 30 community members to visit Jones Elementary School classrooms Wednesday to read Theodor Geisel’s classic Dr. Seuss books to children for Read Across America, held on March 2 each year in honor of the author’s birthday.

“If you can carry over your love for reading to the children, then hopefully you can encourage them to love reading as well and be lifelong readers and learners,” Stadiem said.

Christine Gilmore, a second grade teacher at Jones, said this is the 11th year the event’s been held at the school and the 16th in the district.

Students from kindergarten to fifth grade had visits to their classrooms for the readings.

Gilmore said the purpose is to encourage students to realize that reading isn’t just to pass a test or get a good report card.

“It is fun and to open up a world that is fun,” Gilmore said. “When an adult comes in and says, ‘This was my favorite book as a kid,’ hopefully they will say, ‘Oh gosh, reading is not boring.’”

Rhyan Breen, a member of the Wilson County Board of Education, was one of the readers.

“It is not just reading and learning the words on the page and how to pronounce them and how to sound them out, but reading for understanding is probably the single most important thing that any student can learn during the course of their academic career because that is the foundation of all knowledge,” he said.

Breen told the students that as a lawyer, he reads big, thick law books.

“My job was to take the principles I learned in the law books and give them practical applications to my clients in the courtroom,” Breen said. “I told them whether it was science or math or what they wanted to do, they had to read the underlying principles first, try to apply them, then they could write their own experiments or findings and then somebody would build on that knowledge. But is all starts with learning to read and learning to read for understanding.”

Readers and teachers alike agreed that Geisel’s Seuss books were a gift to young readers.

Gilmore said Geisel is her favorite author.

“My kids, from any level, can read any of his books,” Gilmore said.

“I believe Dr. Seuss instills an early love of reading because of his unique stories and use of creativity and imagination because it also encourages the students to be creative and imaginative,” Stadiem said.

Breen, who has young children in the school system, is a big supporter of Read Across America.

“Anything that bolsters reading and reading comprehension and tries to excite young minds to continue to read the written word is always a fantastic idea,” Breen said. “I think it is especially helpful when we have people from the community who can come in and read to these kids and first, show that they care, and second, the importance of reading.”