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Read Across America Hits NM, Roundhouse

February 28, 2011

SANTA FE, N.M. - It's "Read Across America" time again in New Mexico. The year-round program culminates in a celebration of reading and literacy on March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Appearances by "The Cat in the Hat" and other events are planned across the state this week, beginning today at the Roundhouse, when the state House of Representatives recognizes well-known storyteller and this year's "Read Across America" state chairperson, Joe Hayes.

Hayes also has been named the state's Centennial Storyteller, a role he says is directly linked to kids picking up books.

"When you tell a story, the kids'll ask, 'Which book is that story in?' They like making that connection between enjoying the story orally and then reading the story and absorbing it through that medium."

Given the amount of time kids spend in front of screens, reading is more important than ever, Hayes adds.

"We have so much technology and so much electronic communication that people tend to forget the foundation of it all is reading. I think we really need to emphasize that reading is the crown jewel of education."

Hayes says the link between reading and language is especially important in New Mexico.

"I like to tell the kids, 'I learned a lot of Spanish from my friends when I was a kid, but then I learned a lot of Spanish by reading. I read in Spanish all the time and that's when I really learned how I could write in Spanish.'"

The "Read Across America" initiative in the state is a program of NEA New Mexico. A celebration sponsored by the group will be held at the Aspen School, Santa Fe, on Wednesday.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM