ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Parris Glendening read a book by Seuss, to give boys and girls a reading boost.
Throughout the state on Friday, state officials read to children in honor of Read Across America, an event sponsored locally by the Maryland State Teachers Association.
The event, which aims to promote reading among schoolchildren, is celebrated each year on the birthday of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
The event’s purpose, said Debra Williams-Garner of the MSTA, is to emphasize the importance of reading to children, especially in their early years. It is also to increase the bond between children and their parents.
“When you have heavy parental involvement, kids are successful,” she said. While the event is not just about Dr. Seuss books, Williams-Garner said children learn well from his writings.
“Kids want to read things they can relate to,” she said.
In Copeland’s of New Orleans restaurant in Annapolis, 33 first-graders from Patti Sapp’s class at Piney Orchard Elementary School in Anne Arundel County donned red-and-white striped top hats – to emulate the well-known Seuss character The Cat in the Hat – and listened excitedly as Glendening read “Green Eggs and Ham.”
Glendening’s reading was part of their reward for reading 1,375 books.
Glendening sat cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by the children, and asked for volunteers to read pages from the book.
“I think they were just absolutely great,” Glendening said about the children’s reading skills. He complimented how they sounded out words when they had trouble.
“We’re all so proud of you,” he told the students.
Glendening asked the children what they wanted to be when they grew up, and the answers ranged from firefighter to haircutter. One student, Jenna-Marie Ramey, said she wanted to be an art teacher.
“Before governor, I was a teacher,” Glendening told her.
No one wanted to be Maryland’s highest ranking official.
“Doesn’t somebody want to be governor?” Glendening asked.
Suddenly, they all changed their minds.
MSTA President Patricia Foerster read another Seuss work, “The Cat in the Hat.”
The children enjoyed the event – and they liked green eggs and ham, served by the restaurant.
Some were thrilled to read aloud.
Valarie Cook, 7, said her favorite part was “that I got to read.”
“My favorite part was when the fish was getting so worried,” said Ryan Kenney, 6, referring to “The Cat in the Hat.”
From Sept. 12 to Oct. 12 last year, the MSTA held a contest throughout the state to encourage reading. The elementary school class that read the most books won the reading by Glendening, a pizza party, and $1,000 worth of books, said Williams-Garner.
“Everything we do in the classroom is related to reading,” Sapp said.
At Westfield Shoppingtown Annapolis, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend read aloud to a large group of children of different ages. Townsend read “Frog and Toad All Year” by Arnold Lobel, which she said is one of her favorite books to read to her children.
“Books take you to different lands, different characters, and open up your heart and imagination,” Townsend said.
Legislators also read to classes in their districts. Among them were Delegate Mark Shriver, D-Montgomery, who read to students from Flower Hill Elementary, and Delegate Janet Greenip, R-Anne Arundel, read to Central Elementary School second-graders.