SOURCE: National Education Association (NEA)

March 05, 2008 07:42 ET

Millions Join NEA, Cat in the Hat to Read Across America

Nation's Largest Reading Event Culminates With Cat-a-Van Tours, Celebrity Read-Ins

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - March 5, 2008) - Millions of young readers "Heard a Who!" today as they celebrated the National Education Association's 11th annual Read Across America Day.

Aimed at raising awareness about the importance of reading, the nation's largest reading event included special appearances by Dr. Seuss's famous feline, the Cat in the Hat, at thousands of Read Across America Day events from coast to coast -- including a red carpet celebrity read-in, Cat-a-Van reading tours, Spring Training read-ins with professional baseball players, U.S. Senate resolutions, and community reading celebrations at Target stores nationwide.

"Every year on Read Across America Day, the imaginations of millions of youngsters are ignited with the invigorating and electrifying magic that happens when they open up a good book," said NEA President Reg Weaver. "As we light these fires in the minds of young students, we have a responsibility to cultivate the flames to develop life-long learners. Read Across America is not just about one hour or one day of reading but a lifetime of good reading habits that will translate into academic success."

In Compton, Calif., dozens of celebrities donned signature Seuss gear and read the Dr.'s classics to more than 750 local public school students. The red carpet worthy reading roster included Emmy-award winning actress Jenna Fischer of "The Office," hotel heiress Nicky Hilton, Corey Feldman of "The Two Coreys," Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians," A.J. Buckley of "CSI: NY," Jowharah Jones of "Ugly Betty," Emmanuelle Chriqui of "Entourage," Shamyl Brown of "The Wire," Robbie Jones of "One Tree Hill," and Skye McCole Bartusiak of real-time thriller "24."

To put the "across" into the special reading day, NEA revved up its engines again this year with three Cat-a-Van tours hitting the road to bring the gift of reading to thousands of schoolchildren. Covering more than 1,200 miles, the Cat-a-Van tours will visit more than 18 cities in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

The weeklong Cat-a-Vans will provide books and cash donations valued at more than $100,000 to public schools and their libraries along the reading route through a generous donation from NEA's Books Across America. In recent years, Cat-a-Vans have traveled through Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Cat-a-Van tours will keep trekking throughout the Sunshine State in early March for "Read Across Spring Training," designed to bring reading fun to ballparks as Major League Baseball teams show they "got game" by hosting special read-ins for local schoolchildren. This year's reading line up includes the Boston Red Sox, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets and Washington Nationals.

The challenge to get youngsters to read continues to grow, according to a recent study by the National Endowment for the Arts that found teenagers and young adults are reading less often and for shorter amounts of time.

"Nowadays children have all sorts of distractions -- video games, Internet surfing and high-tech gadgets -- which can take them away from reading," said Weaver. "NEA's Read Across America provides tools, resources and tips for parents and educators that make reading a fun and enjoyable experience so kids will keep turning pages."

Lawmakers also lent their bipartisan support to NEA's literacy campaign and its reading cause. On Capitol Hill, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) supported a resolution designating March 3 as "Read Across America Day." No matter what the presidential polls predict, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle know reading is where it's "hat."

The reading fun expands beyond the day as many of Read Across America's national partner organizations are joining in the celebration. Retail giant Target, a long-standing partner, kicked off their celebrations on the eve of Read Across America Day by hosting nationwide in-store reading events on March 2.

Visit for additional information on Read Across America Day and the Cat-a-Van Reading Tour. High resolution photographs from the events are available at

The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

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