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Susquehanna Life

Today is Read Across America

Mar 02, 2018 11:19AM ● By Erica Shames
Today is the National Endowment for the Arts' Read Across America, an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss.

NEA's Read Across America also provides NEA members, parents, caregivers and children the resources and activities they need to keep reading 365 days a year.

In cities and towns across the nation, teachers, teenagers, librarians, politicians, actors, athletes, parents, grandparents and others develop NEA's Read Across America activities to bring reading excitement to children of all ages. 

Governors, mayors and other elected officials recognize the role reading plays in their communities with proclamations and floor statements. Athletes and actors issue reading challenges to young readers. And teachers and principals seem to be more than happy to dye their hair green or be duct-taped to a wall if it boosts their students' reading.

Read Across America in Lewisburg

At Lewisburg's Kelly Elementary School, a variety of readers visited to engage with students in grades kindergarten through third. Coordinated by Kelly librarian Deb Hornberger, the day's guests included members of Bucknell University's wrestling coach and founder and publisher of Susquehanna Life magazine, Erica L. Shames, who read the book Strega Nona to members of a second grade class. Shames chose the book because it was a favorite of her three children, when they were young children. 

Shames also talked to the class about the importance of words, and how her love of words translated to a career path, including the start-up of her magazine, Susquehanna Life, which celebrates its 25th birthday this year.

"I told them how my love of words impacted my career path," said Shames. "First as a writer, then as a public relations professional and ultimately to the decision to start the region's first lifestyle magazine in 1993.

"It was gratifying to witness the children's interest in the articles in the magazine, including one on the importance and health benefits of spending time outdoors," added Shames.

Each child was given a copy of the winter 2017/2018 edition of Susquehanna Life magazine, and were encouraged to visit the Public Library for Union County in Lewisburg, where a Susquehanna Life magazine 25th anniversary exhibit, featuring photographs and mementos from the magazine's history, is in progress through March 31, 2018.

Shames' enthusiasm about the Read Across America event has led her to make the decision to hold a Read Across America event at the Lewisburg offices of Susquehanna Life magazine in 2019. 

The Start of Read Across America

In May 1997, a small reading task force at NEA came up with a big idea. "Let's create a day to celebrate reading," the group decided. "We hold pep rallies to get kids excited about football. We assemble to remember that Character Counts. Why don't we do something to get kids excited about reading? We'll call it 'NEA's Read Across America' and we'll celebrate it on Dr. Seuss's birthday." And so was born on March 2, 1998, the largest celebration of reading this country has ever seen.

The Purpose of Read Across America

Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.

Get Involved!

Contact your local school, NEA local association, library, bookstore or local chapter of NEA's Read Across America partner organizations about events that are taking place in your community. Explore this Web site fully for information, ideas, and resources.

Begin Planning Now!

NEA's Read Across America Resource materials offer numerous opportunities for involvement in children's reading throughout the year. The only thing you need to do is plan how, where, and when you will read to a child or teen in your life - everyday. Don't forget to join the Read Across America Fan page and Cause page on Facebook and check out the Read Across America Channel on for videos.

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