Event promotes family fun of reading

Every child received three free books at the reading
celebration that marks Dr. Seuss’ birthday.



YOUNGSTOWN — It was easy to spot the volunteers at Youngstown State University’s Read Across America event.

Each donned a candy cane-striped top hat, made famous by a cat in a Dr. Seuss classic. And each was delivering the message: Reading is fun.

Every year on the birthday of the late children’s author Dr. Seuss, the National Education Association hosts the event it calls “the nation’s largest reading celebration.”

Youngstown State University hosted its second annual Seuss-inspired reading celebration Saturday, with help from Pete the Penguin and a handful of costumed characters from Seuss books.

Young participants heard stories from YSU professors and took part in crafts and games.

Parents heard advice about reading at home from organizers and city officials.

“It’s pretty much promoting that reading can be fun,” said Amanda Barbone, Youngstown Student Education Association president.

“All reading’s not boring.”

The organization of about 30 education students began planning the event in December.

Kindergartners through fourth-graders from all the county’s elementary schools were invited.

Each child left with a picture with “Pete” and “The Cat in the Hat,” a face painting as well as three free books from nonprofit First Book.

It was a fun-filled afternoon for 5-year-old Brianna Phillips, and her parents John and Michele, of New Springfield.

“I think it’s good to see that they’re actually focused on reading,” said Michele Phillips, 32. “Everybody’s so focused on sports.”

Brianna, took home a new selection from her favorite series, “Junie B. Jones.”

“She’s read pretty much every one,” said John Phillips, 37.

The couple said they read to Brianna every night.

The importance of reading as a family was the message from Jason Whitehead, Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams’ chief of staff.

Instead of gathering around the television at night, families should gather around a book, he said.

“I think it’s great,” said Shaun Yancey, 34, of Youngstown, whose 8-year-old daughter Shauné took part in a painting activity. “I think it lets kids know that reading is fun.”


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