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Sara Ferguson

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Celebrate Read Across America Day

Posted: 02/29/2012 2:57 pm

After visiting the White House, sitting with First Lady Michelle Obama for the State of the Union address and appearing on the Ellen show, I'm happy to be back with my favorite audience in the place I love most -- a classroom full of students.

As I settle back into my routine, I'm excited about March 2nd, Dr. Seuss' birthday, and the National Education Association's Read Across America Day!

This Friday, students across America will don the trademark Lorax yellow mustaches and listen with excitement as teachers and other adults read books like The Lorax, or Oh The Places You'll Go!. This brings me to a very important point. March 2nd is a day when, regardless of your profession or level of education, we can all be teachers and make a difference in the lives of students.

Most of us cannot present our local public schools with $100,000 checks like J.C. Penney did on the Ellen show, but we can all make a significant contribution to the success of students in our communities. Parents, caring adults, community partners, celebrities, politicians -- all of us can join together to support our children and their learning. Like Georgia school bus driver James Ojeda, who has students read together on his bus. This engaging activity has virtually eliminated misbehavior. And Judge Nicholas Nichols, who, with the local bar association, comes to my school in Chester, Penn., each year to read to students.

Actors Danny DeVito and Zac Efron from the film Dr. Seuss' The Lorax will serve as celebrity guest readers at a national reading event at the New York Public Library this Friday for NEA's Read Across America Day. They will read to nearly 300 students from New York's public schools.

Corporations are joining the effort to get students excited about reading. Mazda has teamed up with Universal Studios, NEA's Read Across America, and the NEA Foundation to benefit public school libraries nationwide. Mazda has pledged up to $1 million in support of the nation's public school libraries through a unique test drive program.

I guess it is cliché' to say "it takes a whole village to raise a child" but let's face it, it does. And while public schools desperately need resources and appreciate the generosity of people like Ellen, it's the simple things that often yield the greatest results. Children know nothing about financing and budgets -- what they remember most are people and how they make them feel.

As Americans we say that children are our priority. So what can we do to "walk the talk"? First, take the time to share a book with a child. Time spent reading with children not only increases their academic achievement, but also improves their self esteem. When we show children that they are worthy of our time and attention they have a better sense of their own worth.

Next, become an active member of your local public school community. In light of the severe cuts that have plagued many American schools, we need all hands on deck. Volunteer to share your time and talents with school students. Read a book, listen to a child read, donate a book to a school library, lead a music or arts and crafts lesson, or even throw a football with children on a school playground. We need everyone to know that no contribution is too small.

Starting March 2nd, let's rally around our children and honor Dr. Seuss. This could be the starting point for one of your most rewarding experiences. So do a good deed. Pick up a book and read. It's an excellent way to help a child succeed.

Celebrate Read Across American Day 2012!