“I can’t believe it.”
“This is A-MAZING!”
Those were just a few of the early reactions from fourth-graders climbing aboard the colorful, 38-foot bus outside Moriarty Magnet School in Norwich this morning.
Today kicks off the Connecticut Education Foundation’s (CEF) second annual Read Across America Reading Bus Tour, featuring a customized blue bus decorated with well-known Dr. Seuss characters and outfitted with bookshelves, benches, carpeting, and hundreds of new books.
Hosted by CEF and sponsored by Big Y World Class Markets, iHeartRadio, and the National Education Association, the year’s biggest literacy event rolls into six eastern Connecticut towns this week to bring the joy of reading to hundreds of students. Complete with guest readers, costumed characters, crafts, and literacy activities, the event also includes book bags filled with school supplies, and a new book of their choice for nearly 1,000 students.
After Norwich, the tour moves on to Griswold, Voluntown, Killingly, Groton, and Plainfield.
The gift of reading
“This event is about encouraging children to read and turning them into successful, lifelong readers,” says CEF President and CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas, who started off the tour by reading Melanie Watt’s award-winning Scaredy Squirrel to Moriarty School third- and fourth-graders.
“We are proud to work with our teachers across the state to promote the importance of reading and to get great books into their hands,” Nicholas says.
Fourth-grade teacher Dawn Bisson, whose students were the first to board this bus this morning, said, “Did you see them? Did you see how excited they were? From series books like Magic Tree House to more challenging texts like Swindle, our kids just love to read, and this gets them even more excited. Reading takes them to places they may have never seen or places they can’t be right now.”
Bisson adds, “It’s a cold morning, and usually we’re tired at this hour on a Monday, but today my students didn’t care about the cold or wind. They wanted to be here. They wanted to be on this bus.”
Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program started by the National Education Association (NEA) that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. The event has been so well received that it has expanded from a one-day celebration into a weeklong reading event with more than 45 million students, parents, and teachers participating in reading parties, community read-ins, activities, character parades, book fairs, and more.