By WIlliam Thompson
Valencia Elementary School students just might get hooked on books next week as daily activities centered around “Reading Across America” are scheduled. “Reading Across America” is a National Education Association (NEA) program begun in 1998 and coincides with children’s author Theodor Geisel’s birthday on March 2.
Geisel is better known as Dr. Seuss.
Todd Morris, principal of the school, said Valencia had to delay its week of fun a little.
“We were busy earlier in the month with testing,” Morris said. “Now, we’re trying to make this a special time for the students where they can take time to relax after testing and have some fun before spring break.”
Students will be dressing up as their favorite storybook characters next week. On Wednesday, wacky hairdos and pajamas will be evident for “Whoville Hair Day” based on Dr. Seuss’s classic “Horton Hears a Who.”
“We’ll have Dr. Seuss trivia games each day,” Morris said. “Classes will compete against each other. We’ll also have a ‘rambunctious readers’ party on Friday.”
Morris said the “rambunctious readers” are students who read a large number of books during a nine-week school session and are scored according to their reading level determined by their teachers.
In addition to the special party, daily parades are scheduled.
“We’ll have a parade every day at 2 p.m. in which the students who participate (in dressing up) will go from classroom to classroom. It will be a kind of conga line. This is the first time we’ve ever done it (Reading Across America).”
The students will also get treated to local celebrities reading to them at lunchtime all next week. Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega and local radio personalities Duffy Moon, Steve Rooney and Doc Elder will choose selections from their favorite books,
Ortega said he hasn’t chosen his book yet.
“I’ll be looking for a book that will inspire leadership in the students,” Ortega said. “It’s going to be fun to read to them.”
Although the week will feature works by Dr. Seuss, students will be reading books by a variety of authors. Valencia Elementary student Braden Lee, who held a book called “Don’t Get Caught Driving The School Bus,” said he will be reading every book he can get his hands on, he enjoys reading so much.
“One of my favorite books is ‘Captain Underpants,’” he said. “He (Captain Underpants) is not very bright. One time he went out to try to stop some bank robbers but the robbers just ran right past him.”
Dr. Seuss characters remain the principal inspirational heroes and villains for the Reading Across America program. Morris said the Dr. Seuss books are timeless and that’s why they are still used by teachers to get children interested in reading.
“Each of his books teach lessons,” Morris said. “For instance, “The Lorax” teaches about environmental issues. I think Dr. Seuss books encourage a bit of independence in children. Dr. Seuss will never go out of style.”