‘Oh, the places we’ll go.’ Read Across America celebrated at Barbe Elementary

Published 2:54 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

Students at Barbe Elementary School were read to all day Friday in recognition of National Read Across America Day.

Every March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss is celebrated by sparking a love of reading and fostering early childhood literacy in children across the country. To participate, representatives from many of the school’s Partners in Education dropped by throughout the day to participate.

Two that partnered together were the Children’s Museum of Southwest Louisiana and Phillip 66. The groups visited the campus with cupcakes and many Dr. Seuss books in tow.

Email newsletter signup

Allyson Montgomery, Children’s Museum of SWLA executive director, called books “a pathway to the world.”

“It can take the reader to faraway places, periods of time or to an imaginary place that has yet to be discovered. Reading gives children the chance to explore and imagine in a way that is unique to whatever they are reading.”

It is vital for this experience to be accessible to every student in the school district. Megan Hartman, field communications director for Phillips 66 Gulf Coast, said in a release that since education equity is a key economic opportunity, it is a core value of Phillips 66. Read Across America Day is a prime opportunity to promote this practice.

“When children focus on literacy activities they enjoy, they view reading as a treat and not a chore. Children with strong reading skills perform better in school, become lifelong learners and can be sought after employees.”

National Read Across America is also an opportunity to introduce children to important educational topics that can broaden their perspectives. Hayes Electrical Office Manager Juliet Hayes and LaToya Tunwar, a paralegal for Attorney Derrick D. Kee at Cox Law Firm, were participants who read books to third-grade students that were focused on diversity and inclusion.

The decision to read books on diversity was in honor of Black History Month coming to a close.

Tunwar read “More Than Peach,” a children’s book that explores topics of identity and self-acceptance. She said they wanted to take this opportunity to teach respect and that no person should be judged for the color of their skin.

“We wanted to teach them that diversity looks different. There are all sorts of people with different ethnicities and backgrounds,” Hayes said.

During the reading, they asked the students questions to keep them engaged with the material. She said the students were very focused.

“They answered all the questions, so you could tell that their reading comprehension was improving. It was really cool to see.”

This is the third annual reading program, but for Will Callegans, an enforcement agent with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, this was a new experience. His wife is a teacher, and he previously taught both middle and high school. He was happy to take the opportunity to help the community and young children by reading to them.

“It gets people to see us, not just out there writing fishing license tickets, but interacting with the community itself.”