Third-graders reading in tent

Third-grade students Grace Cruz, Emaad Hussain, center, and Mylz Cameron read books Friday inside a tent in teacher Jordan Adair’s classroom during Read Across America Day at Savannah Elementary School, in the Savannah development. The event honors the March 2 birthday of Dr. Seuss, aka Theodor Geisel.

Batman picked up a book, Belle dropped her glass slipper and Minnie Mouse slipped through quietly, all before 9 a.m.

Denton ISD hosted Read Across America again this year with volunteer readers and costumes for those willing and able.

Originally designed by the National Education Association as a sort of pep rally for reading, Read Across America officially began on March 2, 1998, according to the association’s website.

It commemorates the March 2 birthday of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, and celebrates childhood literacy.

Savannah Elementary School was one of the 19 schools across the district hosting more than 50 events. At Savannah in eastern Denton County, students were able to dress as their favorite book characters.

Caroline Forson’s kindergarten class was dressed for the occasion and ready to dive into the colorful, circuitous, charming world of Dr. Seuss.

Sydnee Peacock, who won Mrs. Denton County this past October, was happily reading from one of her favorite Seuss tales, Oh, the Places You’ll Go.

Mrs. Denton County

Sydnee Peacock, Mrs. Denton County, reads to kindergartners Friday during Read Across America Day at Savannah Elementary School. The event not only celebrates the March 2 birthday of Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel but also to motivates children to read.

“I love this book because I feel like it kind of describes life in general,” she said. “I feel like this kind of gives them a foreshadowing of what’s going to happen in their life.”

As Peacock led the students through the travels of our cartoon protagonist, the Caped Crusader listened intently, Spider-Man removed his mask and a bespectacled Thing 1 with spiked blue hair stared curiously around the room.

At the mention of “the bright places where Boom Bands are playing,” Peacock paused to ask, “Do you guys like parties?”

A chorus of “yeahs” rippled across the crowd, but one voice cut above the others: “One time my mom had a birthday on the same day as my dad!”

Peacock frequently was interrupted by questions, such as “Why is his tail yellow?” and informative outbursts explaining how many teeth each student recently had lost.

Just down the hall, third-graders in Jordan Adair’s class were enjoying their first-ever Campfire Flashlight Friday, a special privilege where everybody got to read their own book by flashlight in the darkened room.

Adair’s door has a sign welcoming students to “CAMP Read ALOT.”

Camp Read Alot

Third-graders in Jordan Adair’s class read their books by flashlight Friday inside “CAMP Read ALOT” during Read Across America Day at Savannah Elementary School.

Students circled in and out of a large camping tent set up in the corner. What might have fit two adults comfortably had as many as eight third-graders reading happily within the canvas folds.

A video loop of a campfire played silently through a projector at the front of the room.

Jaxson Ward, one of Adair’s many wards, said he likes reading a lot, although he hadn’t always.

“I liked to read in third grade this year because Mrs. Adair had lots of interesting books,” he said, “and I think I didn’t find any interesting books for my grade last year.”

His personal favorites are the Amulet series, as well as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

He was cut short as Assistant Principal Claire Springer started to read The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. His classmates across the room already were listening, and his attention began to slide away to them.

She dramatized the Rainbow Fish’s journey of self-discovery, which could be considered a quest or rags-to-riches story depending upon the observer’s level of optimism.

The fish struggles to find friends until he gives away his shiny scales to make the other fish happy.

“Maybe I wouldn’t miss just one,” Springer read, showing the pictures to her captive audience. (Springer is the daughter of Denton Record-Chronicle owner and publisher Bill Patterson.)

“How about a thousand?” quietly asked one young master of foreshadowing.

With friends abounding beneath the waves, Springer left our scaly hero and asked the assembled pupils to talk with their neighbors about what they learned from the story.

One student cut through the chatter with a wise summation: “Friendship is better than beauty.”

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

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