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February 24, 2010 > 'Read Across America' is fun for all ages

'Read Across America' is fun for all ages

By Miriam G. Mazliach
Photos By Rebecca Venable

Anticipation is building at Tom Kitayama Elementary School in Union City as parents, teachers, staff and 800 students get ready to participate in a month of specially created activities for "Read Across America Day."

The National Education Association (NEA) and the California Teachers Association (CTA) sponsor "Read Across America Day," now in its 14th year. A celebratory reading tradition, this program was initiated to honor the birthday of beloved children's author Theodore Geisel, best known as "Dr. Seuss." Every March 2, thousands of schools, libraries and community groups participate by focusing on activities to motivate children and teens toward reading for enjoyment. This year's theme is "Serve Up a Good Book!"

"Last year was the first year we participated in the read-a-thon and so it was natural to gravitate to expanding it by taking part in "Read Across America," says Kitayama PTA President, Rebecca Venable. "Literacy is a really strong issue with me personally," she adds, "and the new principal made literacy the school's key focus. The PTA is really vital and there is all around support from the teachers."

Three major literacy events are planned at Kitayama Elementary School:

Event 1: Kitayama's 2nd Annual Dr. Seuss Read-a-thon, February 18 - March 4.
The read-a-thon is an exciting PTA sponsored literacy program designed to help Kitayama students develop daily reading habits and lengthen the duration of reading intervals. Children will be encouraged to set reading goals and keep track of their progress. At pre-set intervals, prizes will be given to students based on their reading accomplishments. The top prize is a special party including gifts and a surprise guest. Business sponsors include: Office Max in Union Landing; Togo's in Union Landing; American Licorice Co, Union City; Lucky's in Union Landing; Blommer Chocolate Co., Union City; Hometown Buffet in Union City; Century 25 in Union Landing; and Costco in Hayward.

Event 2: Read Across America Family Night, March 3, from 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
An evening for students and their families to share the joy and importance of reading. Local dignitaries, authors and city officials will participate by reading an excerpt from a favorite book or literary passage. Additional activities and giveaways will be sponsored by the Kitayama PTA.

Event 3: Family Literacy Night, March 10, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Hosted by the Kitayama Teachers, this event helps parents engage their young readers and reinforce literacy skills learned in the classroom.

According to Venable, a major part of the school's curriculum includes the "Writers Workshop," mini lessons in a variety of genres that help students learn to enjoy writing and inspires them to become authors. She attributes the rise in the school's test scores to the emphasis on literacy.

"I honestly feel very lucky to have the parent involvement with the PTA and teachers, who come together and have events like these here, and reach out to the community."

Tuesday, March 2: - Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss' Birthday)
February 18 - March 4: Kitayama Elementary Read-a-thon -daytime school days
Wednesday, March 3: - Read Across America Family Night, 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 10: - Family Literacy Night, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Tom Kitayama Elementary School
1959 Sunsprite Drive, Union City
(510) 475-3982
New Haven district website:

Other local school districts are also participating in "Read Across America Day." Some of them are listed below:


28 Fremont Elementary Schools will participate in the annual "Read Across America Day." Here's a sampling:

Azevada Elementary:
Monday, March 1 - "All Star Student Readers Day." Students wear favorite spirit wear to school.
Tuesday, March 2 - "Hats Off to Dr. Seuss Day." Students wear their favorite hat, or Dr. Seuss hat, to school.
Wednesday, March 3 - "Team Up for Reading Day." Students wear favorite sportswear to school. Guest readers will be invited to school to read to classrooms.
Thursday, March 4 - "Crazy for Books Day." Students wear their favorite crazy hairstyle to school.
Friday, March 5 - "Pajama Day." Students wear pajamas to school in anticipation of "Bedtime Story Night." "Bedtime Story Night" - A family literacy event at school (6 p.m. - 8 p.m.) Guest readers are invited to school to read their favorite stories to students.

Cabrillo Elementary:
To continue an annual tradition, Dr. Seuss' Birthday, parents, community members and district office staff will be invited to read to Cabrillo students in classrooms from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
In addition: Young Authors will read their original books to their peers.
It will be a Drop everything and Read/Sustained Silent Reading day.
Students will write book reviews. Staff will read aloud to students.
The PTA will provide a continental breakfast for visitors. Older students will read to younger students.

Oliveira Elementary:
They will have pajama day on March 2 with all classrooms having guest readers.
K-3 will kick off a two week read - a - thon. Students will then bring in donations of at least 2 to 3 of their favorite books. The students will shop in the multi-use room on March 19 for 1 to 2 books each. The remaining books will be sent to New Orleans' schools.
Fourth - sixth graders will have a read-a-thon, gathering pledges for minutes read. The money earned will be put toward Science Camp. 10 percent of the profits will be sent to the Red Cross Haiti Relief on March 31.
Friday, March 19 will be Family Reading Night with guest readers, Sonia Rodriguez (head of Cesar Chavez Foundation) and Anthony Chavez (Cesar Chavez's grandson).

Parkmont Elementary:
Parkmont will host special guest readers during the week including: Assistant Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi; School Board member Lily Mei; Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman; Martha Matthiesen, Community Engagement Specialist FPD; Leslie Gupta President Parkmont PTA; Mrs. Brannin Dorsey, FUDTA(Teacher's Union) President; School Board member Ivy Wu and Parkmont Principal Marianne Schmidt.
Friday, February 26, 7 p.m. Family Read Night - MUR.
Students will receive directions for reading each night to be included in a raffle each day.
Scholastic Book Fair will be held all week.

To contact Fremont district schools visit


"Read Across America" Celebration
Tuesday, March 2
3:30 p.m.
Hayward Main Public Library
835 C Street, Hayward
(510) 293-8685

Also, various Elementary schools in Hayward will be holding Dr. Seuss/"Read Across America" activities. To check on specific schools, visit the Hayward Unified School District website:


Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) has at least two schools that will participate. Marshall Pomeroy Elementary is holding a special day centered on Dr. Seuss on March 2. Joseph Weller Elementary's day is March 5. Both schools are inviting members from the community to participate in reading to the children.

Milpitas schools' website:


Here are two of the schools with a selection of their activities:

Kennedy Elementary:
Friday, February 26, each grade level will be going to the library for a 20 minute read aloud with local merchants, professors, former teachers and Newark Schools Superintendent, Kevin Harrigan.

That same evening at 7 p.m. they will be honoring and celebrating Kennedy's student authors through the school's Young Authors' program. Author Dave Keane will be the guest speaker.

On Friday, March 5, Newark Mayor David Smith will be reading his favorite Dr. Seuss book to the primary grade students during lunchtime.

Graham Elementary:
There will be a reading poster contest with two prizes awarded per grade level. Bookmarks will be given to students to fill out and decorate which will then be exchanged and given to other students on "Read Across America Day."

Each class will receive a free book. All classes will gather outside in the afternoon for a "read-out."

Newark Unified School District website:

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