By Denise Gary
Photos by Shelby McBride, Sarah Zelhart, Kim OBrien, and Denise Gary

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go” and did we ever during the National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America Day this year! In fact, you could say we enjoyed the entire week full of readings and literacy festivals! Read Across America Day (RAAD) is a nationwide celebration of reading, occurring every year on March 2nd, the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Read to Me at UMOM New Day Centers, Phoenix

The day before RAAD, we were invited to team up with our Arizona Coyotes literacy partners for “Read to Me,” a weekly literacy program held at UMOM New Day Centers in Phoenix. Volunteers provide one-on-one reading with 50–70 children living at the transitional home. KNTR was represented by Board Member Gary Mlodzik, volunteer Tina Mlodzik, and me.

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I had a ball with Lilianna, my kindergarten-aged reading partner! Her eyes lit up with excitement whenever I offered a high five over one of her reading accomplishments! After a while, she started initiating the high fives whenever she sensed a victory. It was wonderful to see the room filled with Coyotes staff and players reading to kids, and Howler made an appearance, to the delight of the children. It was a fun and positive evening!

Love of Reading at Liberty Traditional Charter School, Phoenix

Our first stop the morning of RAAD was a reading of The Little Flame for the second grade students at Liberty Traditional School in the heart of Phoenix. These kids were super sweet! We first engaged in some storytelling as a means of letting them know there is no limit to the adventures they can experience through books and their imagination.

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Afterwards, we donned our Brain Caps and shared in the adventures of The Little Flame. Each student was given a copy of the book, along with a Highlights magazine and Family Reading Tips for their parents.

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Cocopah Middle School’s 18th Annual Read Across America Event, Scottsdale

Next up were two readings at Cocopah Middle School in Scottsdale, an annual tradition for Kids Need to Read on RAAD.

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Reading The Little Flame to this age range is really quite wonderful, because they grasp the symbolism and can relate very well with the feelings of The Little Flame.

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At the end of one of the readings, I heard a young man exclaim, “That was good!” Ah, to interest a middle school student in reading is a win!

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We also brought raffle items for the two classes.

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Of course, all students received a copy of the book.

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As we were leaving, I was surprised to find a bench inscribed with the words “Be kind,” as these are words from The Little Flame. Serendipity!

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Ingleside Reads, Ingleside Middle School Literacy Night, Phoenix

Ingleside Middle School held a literacy night, complete with games, contests, books, and an author panel featuring Austin Aslan, Ryan Dalton, Amy Fellner Dominy, Amy K. Nichols, and Shonna Slayton. Said organizer Traci Avalos the day after the event, “We had some very happy kids this morning … all excited about reading!”

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Lori Cothrun ran a table for KNTR at Ingleside Reads and had this to report: “Visiting Ingleside Middle School was a perfect ending to Read Across America Day.  This event was created and ran by the students and they put a lot of hard work into it.  KNTR was the “Pin the Hat on the Cat” station where we had a blast encouraging kids to get the hat just right. We handed out Highlights magazines along with Star Wars Reads buttons. They ended the night with a literacy themed costume contest that was full of fun and creativity!”

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Family Fest 16, sponsored by Family SPOT Resource Center, Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran School & Preschool, Gilbert

What a fantastic day we had giving beautiful books and Highlights magazines to children at Family Fest 16! We only managed to fire off this one picture of indispensable volunteer Jess before being wonderfully inundated by families! (Notice The Page Coach in the background! It was our first event utilizing KNTR’s new mobile outreach unit.)

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Our tables were constantly surrounded by parents and children wanting books and magazines. It was a terrific event featuring many community resources! Kim OBrien and Heather Miller of Pi Beta Phi Phoenix Alumnae Club came to give us a helping hand and enjoyed seeing recognition of Pi Beta Phi Foundation’s $10,000 contribution toward books for The Page Coach.

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What a terrific week we had celebrating reading and the wonders of life contained within the pages of books! We are looking forward to many more days like this via The Page Coach!

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