Sunday, March 2, 2014 was the 110th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Geisel, the author and illustrator of children’s books, most of which were written under the nom de plume Dr. Seuss, and editor of the Random House imprint Beginner Books. This year, as the 2nd of March fell on a Sunday, the National Education Association (N.E.A.) celebrated the 17th Read Across America Day (R.A.A.D.) on Monday, March 3, 2014, and so did the U.S. Government.
In fact, President Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. issued a proclamation on Friday, February 28, 2014 that March 3, 2014 was Read Across America Day.
Literacy is the foundation of every child's education. It opens doorways to opportunity, transports us across time and space, and binds family and friends closer together. When parents, educators, librarians, and mentors read with children, they give a gift that will nourish souls for a lifetime. Today, Americans young and old will take time to get lost in a story and do their part to cultivate the next generation of talent and intellect.
This day is also a time to honor the legacy of Theodor Seuss Geisel, known to us as Dr. Seuss. Countless Americans can recall his books as their first step into the lands of letters and wordplay. With creatures, contraptions, and vibrant characters, they have led generations of happy travelers through voyages of the imagination. Yet his tales also challenge dictators and discrimination. They call us to open our minds, to take responsibility for ourselves and our planet. And they remind us that the value of our possessions pales in comparison to that of the ties we share with family, friends, and community.
From children's stories to classic works of literature, the written word allows us to see the world from new perspectives. It helps us understand what it means to be human and what it means to be American. During Read Across America Day, let us celebrate, rediscover, and engage our children in this wonderful pastime.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 3, 2014, as Read Across America Day. I call upon children, families, educators, librarians, public officials, and all the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
LaVar Burton (Roots, Reading Rainbow, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Perception) explains in this YouTube Reading Rainbow video that Theodore (Dr. Seuss) Geisel’s birthday is Read Across America Day, and mentions “March is a month of celebration for those who like books.” In the video, posted March 2, 2014, Mr. Burton reads four poems from “I Am The Book” Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, which is illustrated by Yayo.
Renaissance Dental is 2014 National Sponsor is the of N.E.A.'s Read Across America program, Cat-a-Van tours, and state affiliate grants. N.E.A. Member Benefits created a new online Seuss Store to sell Dr. Seuss products including reading awards, pencils, and decorations.
Four partner organizations help qualifying schools and students acquire print or digital books by Dr. Seuss (and other writers) at little-to-no cost. First Book is a non-profit organization that provides free and low-cost books to schools and programs that serve children from poor families. First Book Marketplace also sells books and educational materials at a deep discount.
We Give Books is a new initiative from Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation that enables any adult with Internet access to allow children to read books online. The Heart of America Foundation revitalizes elementary school libraries and donates books to schools and programs that serve poor children through its Books from the Heart program.
Reading Is Fundamental (R.I.F.) is the largest children’s literacy non-profit organization in the U.S. It has given away 400,000,000 books to 35,000,000 children since its foundation in 1966.
The N.E.A.’s Mary Ellen Flannery reported “45 million students, parents, and educators celebrated NEA’s Read Across America this year.” N.E.A. President Dennis Van Roekel told schoolchildren at Roosevelt School in Livonia, Michigan on Monday, March 3, 2014, that R.A.A.D. was being celebrated “in schools like this one, and also in libraries, community centers, and even in Congress and the White House today.”
Ms. Flannery wrote, “This year…the 17th NEA’s Read Across America Day was celebrated March 3 as NEA’s popular Cat-a-Van Reading Tour rolled into the Detroit suburbs.”
As part of the three-week long reading tour, which was co-sponsored by Renaissance Dental, thousands of books and hats have been distributed to public school students. Renaissance Dental also provided $500 to each of the schools visited to stock their library shelves with new books and reading materials. Also, at every stop, hundreds of student took the “reading and brushing oath,” pledging to read each day and brush each night.
This year, the N.E.A.’s Cat-A-Van tour reached eight states: Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas.
 LaVar Burton hosted every episode of Reading Rainbow (1983-2009) on P.B.S. In 2011, Burton and business partner Mark Wolfe acquired the Reading Rainbow license. They setup a Reading Rainbow Web site with a blog and launched a Reading Rainbow app (computer application). Their company, RRKidz, now holds the global rights to Reading Rainbow with the P.B.S. station that produced the show, WNED-TV in Buffalo, New York. RRKidz also holds the rights to other children’s brands and will be launching new apps in 2014.