Local schools have tried as hard they could to keep traditions alive during the coronavirus pandemic, and Brick officials say they are ready to keep the national Read Across America Day celebration, which is aimed at promoting reading among young people, alive and well today.
The program is centered around children’s author Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2. Theodor Seuss Geisel would have been 117 years old this year. The program has since expanded beyond Dr. Seuss to include a number of books educators believe are valuable for students to read – and since it was launched in 1998, the celebration of reading has evolved with the times.
Brick public schools honored this shift by hosting its first ever Virtual Read Across America celebration with various book readings, virtual author visits, diverse virtual book shelves and school-wide themed celebrations.
“We are excited to be able to continue the tradition of Read Across America virtually this year,” said Brittany Bucco, Elementary Curriculum Supervisor. “Thank you to our educators for celebrating literature and expanding the minds of our learners.”
Starting Feb. 22, students in the Brick school district pivoted to a four day in-person schedule, however parents are able to keep children on virtual learning for safety reasons. Despite most of the students being back in the classroom, the district still wanted all of its students to be included in the celebration of Read Across America.
The district stepped up by creating its first Celebrity Readers FlipGRID Gallery with various school board members, town officials, staff and educators sharing their favorite books. Teachers just log into the FlipGrid and share the readings with their students. Thomas Farrell, schools superintendent, shared his favorite book, The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. Brick Township Mayor John Ducey read What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss.
District-wide administrator Alyce Anderson expressed gratitude for the planning that has gone into making the day personal, even under challenging circumstances. The district also partnered with Brick Elks Lodge #2151.
“For the past few years, Denise O’Keefe, chairperson for the Karen Minutella Reading Initiative, and the Brick Elks Lodge have helped our students celebrate Read Across America Day,” Anderson said. “I am so happy that Mrs. Bucco and our ELA coaches were able to create an innovative platform to celebrate reading under these unprecedented times.”
Anderson, who serves as Director of Curriculum and Instruction, shared Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller.
With over 30 readings of diverse books, teachers and students were sure to find a favorite. Brick Elks Lodge #2151 shared a virtual reading of Judy Blume’s Freckle Juice and donated copies for the entire third grade in all of the elementary schools.
Other digital activities are taking place around the district as well, including a virtual author appearance by famous children’s author, Natasha Wing sharing her book, The Night Before Saint Patrick’s Day.
A diverse virtual bookshelf for the month of March, along with other various author shelves are being shared among the schools so students are exposed to varying works of literature via Google Classroom. Individual schools are also doing their part in honoring what has become a fun reading celebration with dress up days, read-alouds and student book shares, crafts and activities. One school is hosting a “Pirate themed reading festival“ with a virtual Pirate Escape Room, reading logs, and fun pirate-themed virtual shelves and activities.
“The Brick Township Public School district’s goal was to promote the importance of literacy and celebrate diversity this year while bringing our school community together during this difficult time,”said Bucco. “I think we achieved our goal and would like to thank all of the community members, administration, staff, and students involved for making this year’s kickoff to Read Across America so special.”