It was all about green eggs and ham and Seussical silliness this week as students from the Santa Maria-Bonita School District celebrated Read Across America Day on what would have been the 109th birthday of acclaimed children's author Theodor Geisel, known by millions as Dr. Seuss.
Created by the National Education Association 21 years ago as a celebration of reading, Friday's districtwide celebration was one of hundreds happening across the country.
Students and staff at Alvin, Taylor and Tunnell elementary schools wore pajamas to class Friday morning to read some of Seuss' books. The Cat in the Hat, one of Seuss' iconic characters, visited Battles Elementary to read books and take photos with students.
At Adam Elementary, community volunteers and district officials ventured into classrooms Friday morning to read books to groups of eager students.
As he walked out of the school's library with a copy "How to Bicycle to the Moon," Mordicai Gerstein's step-by-step inspirational picture book, Tim Savey, a Santa Maria locksmith and two-time volunteer reader, remembered how important reading was to him as a child.
"Every time you read a book, you hear a word or learn about a different place or thing," he said. "It inspires you. It piques your interest and makes you want to find out more about what you read."
Savey recalled that his mom encouraged him to read as a child, something that inspired him to be inquisitive and want to learn more. At Adam Elementary, Savey made his goal simple: give back to the students like his mom did for him.
"I wanted role models to come and help me, too," he said. "I want to give back whatever I can and share with them the passion of reading. It can help you; it can inspire you."
The program would not have worked without volunteers like Savey, said event co-coordinator and third-grade teacher Kali Williams. Roughly 20 individuals signed up and participated in Friday's book reading, contributing to what she (and the students) considered a successful program.
"It's a fun day for the students. For them, they're little celebrities for the day," Williams said. "The readers come back and are very excited; some want to read more."
Though large events are effective in building awareness and stressing the importance of reading, she hoped students take away the fact that it should be an everyday practice.
"Programs like this work because they get students into a mentality where they want to read," she said. "These are really great books kids can enjoy and understand. We want to get 'fun' books into their hands and build up to where they enjoy reading."