Berkshire marks Read Across America Day
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 14:07

Berkshire Elementary School reading specialist Andrea Naft (right) read Dr. Suess’s Daisy-Head Mayzie  to fourth-graders during Read Across America Day last Friday. photo by Nicole Rodman

by Nicole Rodman

Since 1997, the National Education Association has celebrated Read Across America Day at schools across the United States.
    Each year, the event is held on the school day closest to March 2 — the birthday of famed children’s author Theordore Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
    At Berkshire Elementary School last Friday, students and teachers marked the event with a day-long celebration of reading.
    Spearheaded by Berkshire reading specialist Andrea Naft, the day included readings from guest such as Naft’s husband Joseph, associate director of Maryland Industrial Partnerships at the University of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins University pediatric specialist Jerry Winkelstein.
    The event began at 9 a.m. with guest readers sharing books in classrooms across the school.
    In Chara Pitarra’s second-grade classroom, students enjoyed the Dr. Seuss book “Horton Hatches the Egg.”
    Students laughed as Berkshire tutor Lashell Hoover read the story of Horton, an elephant tasked with sitting on a bird’s egg perched high in a tree
    According to Pitarra, the experience is invaluable for the students in her class.
    “I think it is good to have them hear other adults read to them — and read expressively,” she explained.
    Noting that her class loves to be read to, Pitarra described the students as “excited and engaged.”
    Down the hall, in Linda Bozylinski’s fourth-grade classroom, Naft and her husband Joseph donned paper “Cat in the Hat” hats as they shared the Dr. Seuss classic “Daisy-Head Mayzie” with the class.
    Getting into the spirit of the day, one student even came dressed as Thing 2, a character from Dr. Seuss’s “Cat in the Hat” books.
    Sharing reading duties, Naft and her husband read the book, stopping at intervals to allow students to complete the rhyming sentences.
    Periodically, Naft stopped the narrative to ask students to do a 30-second “quickwrite” on how they would react to the situations faced by characters in the book.
    Invested in the book, students gasped as the story of Mayzie, a girl with a daisy growing out of her head, unfolded.
    In other classrooms across the school, students from kindergarten to fifth grade enjoyed books read by a variety of guest readers.
    The event serves as a kick-off to the annual Read Across Maryland event, which encourages students to read 30 minutes a day each day throughout the month of March.
    As part of the program, spearheaded by the Maryland State Education Association, each Berkshire student received a reading log, which parents fill out and sign, listing each book the student has read and for how long.
    Each student who completes the reading log will be entered into a raffle to win a Kindle Fire e-reader or a gift card for online retailer Amazon.com.
    Classes with 50 percent participation or more will be entered into a drawing for an ice cream or pizza party in their classroom.
    According to Naft, the idea is to give kids an incentive to complete the month-long reading challenge.
    The Read Across Maryland program will run through Sunday, March 31.