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Clark College participates in Read Across America Day

2013_03_Thing1Thing2_250px_Each year on or around the birthday of Theodor Geisel—better known as Dr. Seuss—volunteers pour into America’s elementary schools to participate in Read Across America Day to promote literacy by reading Dr. Seuss books to children. This year, 50 volunteers from Clark College participated through the college’s Volunteer & Service-Learning Program, visiting the nearby Harney, Fruit Valley and King elementary schools.

Some of this year’s participants shared not just the joy of reading, but also the joys of learning other languages. As they have for several years now, students from Professor Betsy Ubiergo’s Spanish class practiced their language skills by reading a bilingual edition of a Dr. Seuss book in Harney Elementary’s Spanish-immersion classrooms. Joining the event for the first time this year were students from Clark College’s American Sign Language (ASL) Club, who visited Fruit Valley Elementary School to sign the books to hearing-impaired children.

Clark student Alex Small signs in ASL to a Fruit Valley Elementary School class.

Clark student Alex Small signs in ASL to a Fruit Valley Elementary School class.

“I had a wonderful experience,” said Clark ASL student Alex Small. “The children really seemed to enjoy it. I have a lot of fun bringing awareness about the ASL community.”

ASL Club Coordinator Ronna Steele agreed. “I was nervous at first, but once the kids laughed, it helped me gain confidence,” she said. “I had a lot of fun.”

The Clark volunteers also gave copies of Dr. Seuss books to kindergarten students at each of the three schools. The books were collected by the Clark College Bookstore through its annual Seuss-a-Palooza book drive. This year’s drive was the largest in its five-year history, collecting 300 books.

This event, sponsored by the National Educational Association, is held around the birthday of the famous children’s author Dr. Seuss to encourage literacy. Harney Elementary kindergarten teacher Harmony Fenne called the books “a treasured gift” for her students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly two-thirds of low-income American households do not own any age-appropriate books for their children.

“It’s easy to take reading for granted, but for many children taking the time to read to them are gifts that can open up a world of imagination, creativity and personal growth,” said Clark STEM Dean Peter Williams, who volunteered at the event.

At Harney Elementary, a kindergartner named Keira said she loved having One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish read to her class—and that she had learned something new. “The book is really funny, but there are not only fish in it—there are a thousand silly animals, too!”

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