The doctor is in: Bernice Young School observes Dr. Suess’s birthday with Read Across America

Elementary school opens its doors to special guest readers from the community including Burlington Township Mayor Brian Carlin.

Mayor Brian Carlin reads Dr. Seuss’ “I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!” to the students of second-grade teacher Theresa Deyo for Read Across America at Bernice Young Elementary School.

Stephen Finn

The Sun

Each year around March 2, elementary schools across the nation recognize the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, an author and illustrator more famously known as Dr. Seuss, with a celebration of reading.

In 1997, the National Education Association came up with Read Across America to celebrate and promote reading at an early age.

Dr. Seuss is responsible for introducing countless young people to a love of reading, and his birthday represents a perfect opportunity for schools to get kids excited about books.

On March 1, Bernice Young Elementary School opened its doors to a number of special guest readers in observance of the national program.

Through Read Across America, Principal Denise King wants students to recognize that reading shouldn’t be limited to the classroom and can be enjoyed at any age.

“We get our community partners to come out to read to all of our students from pre-k to second grade. It’s an exciting time for them to really understand that reading is for everybody, from the youngest 3-year-old to to some of our older senior citizens,” said King.

She also sees the program as a great opportunity to introduce her school’s young student body to their wider community.

“Our students need to know that we’re all one family in Burlington Township,” said King. “We want to make sure that we are embracing our diversity and we want everyone to know that we are family and we need to connect through these different activities to help us to learn more about each other,” said King.

If Dr. Seuss were alive, this year would mark his 115th birthday. King likes to think he would be delighted with his continuing legacy in schools.

“He would be thrilled that we’re still continuing to focus on reading and helping even our youngest learners to take a book, look at the pictures and read the words,” said King.

Among the special guests who came from the community to join in the day’s reading activities was Burlington Township Mayor Brian Carlin, who read Dr. Seuss’ “I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!” to the students of second-grade teacher Theresa Deyo.

According to Carlin, he tries to make it to the school every year to participate in Read Across America.

“It started when my kids were here and I was on the school board. I would bring over their favorites,” said Carlin. “I enjoy coming in and reading to them, but, more importantly, what I always do is take some time and let the students read to me.”

Carlin says he was impressed with the children’s level of confidence reading aloud and their demonstrated understanding of inflection and punctuation.

Jimmy Eckert is a Young School parent who surprised his two children, kindergartener Quinn and second-grader Luke, when he showed up to read to their classrooms.

“I don’t tell them so they’re surprised and they get excited,” said Eckert. “The school does a great job putting everything together, and the kids get into it.”

He is grateful for the opportunity to get involved in his children’s school that Read Across America affords parents like him.

“I think it’s great because it gets parents involved. I don’t get to come to as many things because of work so when they have parties and things like that my wife does,” said Eckert.

This time around, he took a turn and jumped at the chance to meet his children’s teachers, see their classrooms and meet their classmates.