For students at Brookside School 54, the focus was on the works of Dr. Seuss on Thursday, March 2 as members of the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever basketball teams read stories aloud to help celebrate Read Across America Day.
Read Across America Day celebrates Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and encourages all readers, both young and old, to pick up a book and read. Dr. Seuss is the pen name for the late Theodor Seuss Geisel, an American children’s book author and cartoonist. He is known for his work writing and illustrating more than 60 books.
At Brookside, youngsters went from session to session to listen to members of the All-Star Reading Team as they shared their favorite Seuss stories.
During the three-hour event, Kelli Towles, senior director of community engagement and Fever player relations, worked the school’s gym and cafeteria, setting up sessions that brought together youngsters with a guest reader.
“This is one of our favorite events of the year,” she said. “There is such excitement when we come into the building from both students and teachers. But I think our staff has as much fun as the students.”
Each participating teacher and child received a commemorative Read Across America
Day T-shirt and a Dr. Seuss-themed hat to wear. At the Dr. Seuss birthday party that capped off the reading celebration, each child was treated to cupcakes and a Pacers/Fever swag bag.
“Our focus here at Brookside is on literacy,” said Principal Jeremy Baugh. “It is exciting for our students to look up to a professional athlete reading a Dr. Seuss story. That shows our students the real value of reading when they are interacting with someone they usually see on TV.”
He noted that when Brookside started classes last fall, about 20 percent of the students were reading at or above grade level. Students are now on track to raise that reading level to about 60 percent by the end of the school year.
“Events like this make reading fun,” Baugh said. “We have some incredible partners, like the Pacers and Fever, who are extremely supportive. And, our teachers are working very hard to help students improve their reading skills.”
In addition to corporate partners, Baugh also said the IPS school is getting assistance from neighbor organizations such as the John Bonner Neighborhood Center, Northview Church, and Brookside Community Church. Each facility has reading rooms and intervention programs to help students with literacy.
“We are blessed to have great partners in our neighborhood,” Baugh said. “These groups are here to support healthy living, making sure the local community members have stable food sources, and help our students realize that literacy is a priority. These organizations are very gracious to be here and support our kids.”