Read Across America promotes children’s literacy

Jackie McLean

VIEW a sound slide from Saturday’s event

For Daniel Mahony, the dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Services, the importance of children’s literacy cannot be overrated.

“When we get kids reading early, it has a real positive impact on their education the whole way through, so getting to them when they’re young is important,” Mahony said.

Local parents and children attended the Kent Student Education Association’s “Read Across America” Saturday in the Student Center ballroom to help promote children’s literacy and celebrate Dr. Seuss’ 105th birthday, which was earlier in March.

The event kicked off with an interactive reading of “Green Eggs and Ham” by Mahony.

Mahony said he chose to read “Green Eggs and Ham” because that’s the book he likes to read to his children at home. Mahony brought his two children, Gavin, 9, and Elena, 6, to the event.

“It’s a fun event for them, and again, we try to encourage our kids to read,” Mahony said. “We read with them every single night and so it’s a kind of common activity in our house.”

Parent Molly Aubuchon also reads to her children, Emma, 6, and Samuel, 4, whenever she can.

“We read in the mornings and then usually in the evenings before bed,” Aubuchon said. “We try to get about six hours in a day.”

Aubuchon said she reads her children a variety of books, including Dr. Seuss books. She said she gets a lot of the books through scholastic or library book sales.

“If they learn that reading is important early on, it’s something that will stick with them through their adult life I think,” Aubuchon said.

Parent Wendy Bisson brought her daughters, Karryn, 10, and Haleigh, 12, to the event for a second time.

Bisson reads to her daughters at home before they go to bed. She said she grew up reading the Dr. Seuss books and she had a Dr. Seuss book collection from 1972.

Bisson said her favorite Dr. Seuss book growing up was “Green Eggs and Ham” and “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.”

“The overall message is that it’s very important to read and you have to know how to read to get through in life,” Bisson said.

After Mahony’s reading of “Green Eggs and Ham,” the children were broken up into groups where they participated in a variety of Dr. Seuss related activities. KSEA president Beth Serva said there were eight different stations and the children would stay at each station for 10 to 15 minutes before rotating to the next station.

Some of the stations included activity books, story time, pin the egg on the ham and pin the hat on the cat. Children were also able to take pictures with The Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2.

This is the second year KSEA has sponsored the event.

“This year we have different activities, we’re getting the kids involved in different ways and one unique thing we did this year is last year the kids got Cat in the Hat hats and this year they are all getting red Cat and the Hat bow-ties,” Serva said. “We want to mix it up for those who came last year and make it different so that they look forward to coming next year.”

Serva said there were about 250 people including participants, volunteers and parents who attended this year’s event.

“We had an overwhelming response and we were actually turning kids away last year and we’re still turning people away this year because we can’t accommodate them all,” Serva said.

Serva said she has been planning the event all year and had received grants and donations from general businesses to help fund the event.

Serva said children also received a free book from First Book of Portage County, an organization that donates new books to children in need.

“For some kids this may be their first book,” Serva said.

The event ended with the children singing happy birthday to Dr. Seuss and eating birthday cake.

10-year-old Karryn Bisson said she had fun at the event and liked the music station, which was an interactive book and song.

Bisson attended last year’s event as well. She said she liked this year’s event better because there were more people.

“It’s important to read, because you learn more words and it explains it better than a TV does,” Bisson said.

6-year-old Emma Aubuchon said she also had fun at the event.

“I liked eating candy,” Abuchon said.

Contact College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Jackie McLean at [email protected].