In the Hands, Hearts, and Minds of Children: Read Across America Day

What could a global supplier of specialty papers and engineered products possibly have in common with kids, Dr. Seuss, and the President of the United States?

Here’s a hint: Read on.

In 1998, the National Education Association launched Read Across America Day in an effort to get kids excited about reading and to encourage more adults to spend time reading with their children—and with good reason.

Literacy is the foundation of lifetime learning, and promoting literacy in early childhood leads to success, beginning in school. According to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics, 35 percent of children who could recognize their letters at the start of kindergarten scored in the top 25 percent in the spring of kindergarten, versus only 2 percent of children who could not recognize their letters at kindergarten entry. A similar pattern is true in the spring of first grade (34 percent versus 5 percent, respectively).

Now in its 17th year, NEA’s Read Across America Day—March 2, in honor of the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as the beloved Dr. Seuss—has exploded into an all-out, nation-wide rally in support of reading! Nearly 45 million teachers, parents, students, and community members participated in the coast-to-coast effort.

From Parent Teacher Association members of John Baldwin Elementary School in California organizing a school-wide book trade, to Tyngsboro Elementary School in Massachusetts hosting a whole-school pep assembly, the importance of the day was recognized. A mother in Colorado, Michaelene Harris, pledged on March 2, 2015 at, “Today I will start to read to my 1-month-old daughter every night before we go to bed.” Even President Barack Obama officially proclaimed March 2, 2015, as Read Across America Day, and called upon the people of the U.S. to “observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.”

And there at the programs, ceremonies, and activities…at the schools, the pep assemblies, and the nursery of a new mother…was Glatfelter, and paper. Held in the hands of millions, impacting the hearts and minds of future leaders—one page at a time.