The children at Laurelwood Elementary School in Santa Clara had their markers and blank sheets of paper all ready for gathering autographs on the morning of March 1st. Parents and staff members warmly welcomed community members serving as guest readers for the school’s celebration of Read Across America, Guest Reader Day. Laurelwood was one of many schools around the country honoring Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2nd by celebrating Read Across America.
“The goal is to promote literacy in our classrooms,” says Joy Shmueli, principal of Laurelwood. “We want to impart to our students that whatever you do, whatever path or career you take, that reading is important. And we want the community to see the great things that Laurelwood Elementary School is doing.”
After guest readers arrived and mingled with each other over refreshments, student ambassadors from all the classes accompanied the readers to their classrooms. Here, guest readers shared about the value of reading and writing and also read aloud from children’s books.
“Children need reading for the future,” says former San Francisco 49er Dana Stubblefield, one of the guest readers. “I want kids to know there’s more than one way to make it in life besides doing sports. They need to learn to read. [When I was a kid], I was into ‘Moby Dick.’ That was my favorite book. I was into stories about animals.”
“I’d tell the kids that reading is the foundation for everything you do in school,” says Officer Matt Hutchison from the Sunnyvale Department of Safety, also a former student at the school. “When I was a kid, I liked to read things with pictures.”
“The Stanford [University] football team does Read Across America with other schools in the general Stanford area,” says David Yankey, an offensive lineman on Stanford’s football team. “Our team visited four schools today. It’s a lot of fun to see how excited the kids are about this. I read ‘James and the Giant Peach’ to my fourth grade class.”
Guest readers also included other football players and women’s soccer players from Stanford, the chief of Sunnyvale’s Department of Safety, members of the Santa Clara Police Department, the principals of Wilcox High School and Peterson Middle School, Kris Sanchez from NBC, and Cynthia Cheng from the Santa Clara Weekly.
“Guest Reader Day is the culmination of Read Across America week,” Shmueli says. “On Monday, students received Dr. Seuss- themed bookmarks. At the spirit rally on Wednesday, [there was] a Dr. Seuss relay. Every class [brought] a paper link chain and on each link we have the student’s name and their favorite book. There [are] over 650 links on the chain.”
Shivani, a third grade student, says she wrote the book title “Aliens Don’t Wear Braces” on her chain. Henrik, also a third grade student, wrote “The River of No Return” on his chain. He adds that he is eagerly waiting for the next book in the series to come out.
“Reading is such an integral part of what we do every day here,” says Kristen Moriarty, a third grade teacher at Laurelwood.