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Read Across America Day

Thursday Mar 16th, 2023

Read Across America is an initiative of the National Education Association (NEA) and aims to celebrate diverse books and voices throughout the year. You may think of March 2, Read Across America Day, as a day to celebrate Dr. Seuss but, it's so much more for students in Erie County thanks to United Way community schools.

Pictured above are Retina Mitchell and DaVona Pacley from Erie Arts & Culture who served as guest readers at McKinley Elementary and Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary, both United Way community schools.

DaVona and Retina read "Hey Wall, the Story of Art and Community" by Susan Verde to raise awareness of the Purposeful Placemaking initiative and stimulate excitement amongst students for all the new murals we have seen created in Erie, and the murals that are slated for 2023.

Retina shared, "This reading initiative was AMAZING! What a wonderful opportunity for kids to become avid readers and informed citizens. Looking forward to next year!"

DaVona commented, "I thoroughly enjoyed our time together reading and talking with the kiddos! They were the sweetest little human beings. We look forward to future opportunities to connect with youth through United Way's community schools initiative."

Patrick Fisher, EAC executive director shared, "Erie Arts & Culture is always happy to collaborate with United Way. We were honored to be invited to participate in 2023's Read Across America. The book we selected, "Hey, Wall" is particularly relevant given our larger collaboration with United Way, Purposeful Placemaking. We felt this book would be great to stimulate conversations with students about the murals they see being created along the identified safer walking routes. I'm thankful Retina and DaVona both represented our organization as part of this year's efforts."

“Diverse stories provide kids with different perspectives and help them see how others think and feel. Put reading to kids on your calendar all year round. Take NEA's Read Across America Diverse Books Challenge and help kids of all ages discover their own voices as they learn from the stories of others.” - Marley Dias, Read Across America Ambassador

Read Across America Day was celebrated at many community schools. Here are just a few highlights we wanted to share with you...

Diehl Elementary accepted a very generous donation of books for students from Ebony Frith, director of the Erie Community Corrections Center. Individuals at Erie CCC are working on returning to society after incarceration and were connected with the opportunity to support local students and United Way community schools through a book drive as part of their required community service. In addition, there were dozens of guests readers at Diehl on Read Across America Day.

Jefferson Elementary enjoyed an uplifting visit from members of Erie High Royals girls and boys basketball teams who served as guest readers along with members of the Erie Police Athletic League (Erie PAL). In addition to reading aloud, Erie High students shared positive messages of encouragement as they visited on Read Across America Day.

JoAnna Connell Elementary was fortunate to have 16 volunteers from their community school corporate partner Larson Texts/Big Ideas Learning drop off donated books for the library. The group of volunteers also served as guest readers, sharing stories in more than 20 classrooms on Read Across America Day.

Perry Elementary enjoyed a visit and read aloud from ANNA Shelter executive director Ruth Thompson and Annie (a dog currently available for adoption.) Perry students held a fundraiser for the ANNA Shelter resulting in $1,300 raised so Ruth's visit was an extra special way to show students the meaning of their generosity. (Bonus: Check out the Perry 5th graders rapping Dr. Seuss in this video clip)