For nearly 60 years, children and adults have discovered the joys of reading as they explored the secret world of Whos, adventured with "The Cat in the Hat" and braved a taste of "Green Eggs and Ham."
But for , Friday marked a year of special dedication to childhood literacy as the school participated for the first time in the National Education Association’s Read Across America.
“This is groundbreaking for us,” said Sunshine Gardens Principal Ifeoma Obodozie. “It’s important for children to have that building block of reading so they can improve in all other areas.”
The annual event falls on the birthday of beloved children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel, more famously known as Dr. Seuss, and aims to be a reminder of the vital importance of reading each and every day.
“Practice makes perfect,” Obodozie said.
Celebrities, elected officials and local leaders throughout the country are chosen to lead the day of community reading with a Dr. Seuss classic.
To commence Sunshine Gardens membership in Read Across America, Police Chief Mike Massoni chose three Seuss favorites for the three age groups that gathered to sit cross-legged in the school’s cafeteria.
“I haven’t read a Dr. Seuss book in a long time,” he said to the children. “I think the last time I read on my kids were your age.”
"And To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street," Seuss’ first published children’s book, "The Cat in the Hat" and "The Lorax" were the selections for the morning.
Obdozie prompted Sunshine Gardens involvement because she wanted to inject some excitement into the learning process.
“We want to infuse a lot of fun into it,” she said. “They don’t even realize how much they’re learning.”
For Massoni, the decision to participate in the event was no-brainer.
His belief in the enrichment of children’s education and status as local leader has led Massoni to have a deep interest in the progress of the community.
“Everyone of these little guys is the future of the city,” Massoni said.
Norma Anderson, whose two grandchildren attend Sunshine Gardens, commended Obodozie for bringing the national movement to the local school.
“She has done so much for this school, and she’s just wonderful,” Anderson said. “If all the schools had principals like her, we’d all be a lot happier.”
As a way to generate even more enthusiasm, Obodozie also made Friday “Crazy Hat Day”, in which kids decorated their own colorful paper hats or opted to construct the traditional red and white striped tall hat made famous in The Cat in the Hat.
At the end of each reading, students took the NEA’s Read Across America Reader’s Oath in a rhyming promise to make reading part of the daily routine.
“Reading opens up the imagination,” Massoni said. “Instead of just watching a movie, you can make it up. You can make your own fun.”
To take the Reader’s Oath with your student read aloud the oath below:
I promise to read
Each day and each night
I know it’s the key
To growing up right.
I’ll read to myself,
I’ll read to a crowd.
It makes no difference
If silent or loud.
I’ll read at my desk,
At home and at school.
On my bean bag or bed,
By the fire or pool.
Each book that I read
Puts smarts in my head,
‘Cause brains grow more thoughts
The more they are fed.
So I take this oath
To make reading my way
Of feeding my brain
What it needs every day.