Schools take part in Read Across America

Although his birthday was on Saturday, Dr. Seuss is still being celebrated by the students of Tullahoma City Schools throughout the next week.

In honor of the wacky wordsmith himself, elementary school students across the city have been celebrating Theodor Geisel, better known by his pen name of Dr. Seuss. The celebrations coordinate with the national recognition of Read Across America, an annual celebration of reading and literacy across the country.


Read Across America

According to the National Education Association (NEA) website, Read Across America is held each year on or around March 2, which is Geisel’s birthday. Teachers, librarians, children and families are encouraged to participate in activities that celebrate and encourage excitement for reading during the celebration, with some schools dedicating an entire week to the festivities.

The practice began in 1997 when a “small reading task force” at the NEA came up with the idea to spend one whole day dedicated to reading, much in the same way schools hold pep rallies to drum up excitement about sporting events.

According to the NEA, providing motivation to read in children can be an “important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers.”

“Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school,” the website states.

The campaign celebrated its 20th birthday in 2017.


Local celebrations

In Tullahoma, schools have chosen to celebrate Read Across America in different ways.

Robert E. Lee Elementary School spent last week participating in activities that celebrated Dr. Seuss’ books and reading in general.

The school welcomed a number of special guests who stopped by to read to various classes, including members of the Tullahoma High School baseball team, the 2019 Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee Madison Dochety and pediatrician Dr. Richard Vaughn.

Monday, Feb. 25 was spent trying to catch students “red-hatted” reading books around the school. Those who were successfully caught were entered to win a special party with Principal Woody Dillehay on Friday.

Tuesday’s theme revolved around words themselves, as children were encouraged to wear clothing with words on it.

Wednesday, also known as “Read to Succeed!” day, was the day for guest readers, with all the school’s special guests stopping by to read to children in every grade level.

Thursday was the day for students to celebrate different genres of books, from fairy tales to mysteries to biographies and everything in between.

Robert E. Lee students rounded out the week on Friday by dressing up as their favorite Dr. Seuss character.

Bel-Aire Elementary celebrated in a way that is familiar to students and faculty alike, with the school’s C.E.O partners (Creating Educational Opportunities) doling out brand-new books for each student in the school. The students each receive a free book that they can use to grow their own personal libraries, according to teacher Loyce Sisco.

Students at Jack T. Farrar Elementary School held their Read Across America celebration on Friday, March 1. According to the school’s website, children were encouraged to dress up as their favorite Dr. Seuss character while they participated in a number of fun Seuss-related activities throughout the day.

East Lincoln Elementary will have its Read Across America celebrations this coming week and will include many of the same activities held at Robert E. Lee. East Lincoln staff will also be on the lookout for students caught “red-hatted” on Monday and encourage clothes with words on them on Tuesday.

Wednesday won’t see any human special guests in the classroom at East Lincoln. Instead, students are being encouraged to bring in their favorite stuffed animal to read with for “Snuggle Up and Read” day.

Thursday is also a different affair at East Lincoln. Instead of celebrating different book genres, students will be asked to wear their “craziest” pair of socks in honor of the book “Fox in Socks.”

Just as the other schools have done, next Friday will see the East Lincoln Eagles dressed up as their favorite Seuss character. There will also be a special party for 30 students who were caught “red-hatted” on Monday, according to an agenda for the week provided to The News.


Artistic expressions

Dr. Seuss books were also celebrated through art in the various schools.

Students at Robert E. Lee spent their week making Seuss-related crafts, including the many fishes of “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” hot air balloon in honor of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” and Horton the elephant from “Horton Hears a Who!”

Bel-Aire art teacher Jennifer Uselton painted the front windows of the school with the truffula trees featured prominently in “The Lorax.”

The main lobby also featured decorations meant to evoke popular Seuss images, including a stack of books dressed up as the Cat in the Hat and other notable Seuss characters painted on large wooden letters that spelled “read” just in front of the main office.

Erin McCullough may be reached at