Watsonville celebrates national reading event

Michelle Rodriguez, superintendent of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, reads a book to students at Ann Soldo Elementary School Friday as part of the Read Across America program. (Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

Community members read to students at Ann Soldo Elementary

WATSONVILLE—Eager students, teachers, and faculty gathered with community volunteers in the library at Ann Soldo Elementary School Friday afternoon to share in the joy of reading.

Principal of Ann Soldo, Elaine Parker, introduced librarian Pamela Arbanas, who explained what everyone could expect in the next hour or so of the “Read Across America” event.

She also took the opportunity to thank all of the volunteers who had chosen to be there.

“I am so happy to see everyone here, providing this service to our students,” Arbanas said. “The kids have been so excited for today—they’ve been talking about it for weeks.”

The National Education Association's Read Across America is an annual nation-wide reading event, aiming to promote literacy and reading in schools and at home.

“Any chance we can let kids sit down, open a book and read is incredibly important,” Arbanas stated. “It expands their creativity, their sense of wonder.”

Read Across America also coincides with the birthday of beloved children’s book author Dr. Seuss (March 2). A number of adults volunteering at Ann Soldo Elementary on Friday afternoon adorned Dr. Seuss-themed costumes—including The Cat in the Hat and Thing One and Thing Two.

Representatives from local non-profit Free Books for Kids were among those volunteers dressed up. The organization donated 300 books to Ann Soldo this year, and more than 1,200 to the entire community.

“Some of these kids do not have many, or even any, books at home,” said organization founder Malcolm Kushner. “And that is such an important thing to have. The more books you are exposed to from an early age the more you will succeed.”

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ABOVE: Watsonville Fire Capt. Matt Ryan (far right) is joined by Malcolm Kushner, Pamela Randall, and Robin Dearinger as they head to classrooms to read to students at Ann Soldo Elementary on Friday. (Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

During Friday’s event, classes were read stories to by their teachers and then the volunteers. Among the guest readers was Captain Matt Ryan of the Watsonville Fire Dept. and Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez. The guest readers were escorted to their individual classrooms by some of Ann Soldo’s older students.

“There’s nothing like seeing the joy on a child’s face when they are enjoying a book,” Arbanas said. “And seeing this many so engaged at once—it is every librarian’s dream, really.”

To learn more about Read Across America visit nea.org.


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