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For the Love of Books: Nebraska Kids Celebrate Reading

Research shows that most kids read less for fun as they get older, unless their parents are role models for enjoying books. (Public Domain Pictures/Pixabay)
Research shows that most kids read less for fun as they get older, unless their parents are role models for enjoying books. (Public Domain Pictures/Pixabay)
March 2, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. – Read Across America Day is held annually on March 2nd to coincide with the birthday of the author known around the world as Dr. Seuss. And in the past 20 years, the observance has grown beyond 'Green Eggs and Ham.'

Schools and libraries across Nebraska hold special events Thursday to celebrate the joy of reading.

President of the National Education Association Lily Eskelsen Garcia says the initial focus was on books for beginning readers, but they've expanded their reading lists to include novels, poetry and other materials that older students can enjoy. She adds they also want to ensure children have diversity in their reading.

"We want to give our students a broad, broad brush of the cultures out there, the richness of our communities,” she says. “We want to make sure every student can see himself or herself reflected in some of the books that they read."

Research shows students who read more at home are better readers and have higher math scores, but it also shows that most kids read less for fun as they get older. Events in Nebraska Thursday include book clubs, Dr. Seuss birthday parties and family literacy nights.

Garcia says her organization created Read Across America Day to get kids excited about reading the way they get excited about other activities.

"We said, 'Name the books that really got you interested in liking reading,' and so many of the people we talked to said, 'Cat in the Hat,' 'Green Eggs and Ham,' 'Hop on Pop.' And we said, there's a theme here – let's make it March 2nd, Dr. Seuss' birthday," she says.

Garcia encourages parents to be reading role models. She explains spending time sharing a book can create a lifelong love of reading.

"Don't ask them questions, like end-of-the-chapter questions; just go, 'Wow, did anything like that ever happen to you?' Get them in a conversation with you about what they're thinking about as they read that story, and that is actually where the magic happens."

An estimated 45 million people nationwide will participate in Read Across America Day.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE