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S.D. Helps to Kick Off Read Across America

Above: More than 300 school kids went to Petco Park to kick off the national Read Across America campaign.

Students donned Dr. Seuss caps as they took part in a number of read-ins.
Enlarge this image

Above: Students donned Dr. Seuss caps as they took part in a number of read-ins.

The focus for Read Across America is to curb the “summer reading loss.”
Enlarge this image

Above: The focus for Read Across America is to curb the “summer reading loss.”

Audio

Aired 7/1/09

More than 300 San Diego County students were in Petco Park yesterday -- but not for baseball. The youngsters were there to help kick-off one of the country's largest childhood literacy campaigns called Read Across America. KPBS Education Reporter Ana Tintocalis says the focus is on what's called the summer reading loss.

— More than 300 San Diego County students were in Petco Park yesterday -- but not for baseball. The youngsters were there to help kick-off one of the country's largest childhood literacy campaigns called Read Across America. KPBS Education Reporter Ana Tintocalis says the focus is on what's called the summer reading loss:

The president of the National Education Association Dennis Van Roekel cheered on the youngsters:

Van Roekel: "Do you guys love to read say yes!"

Kids: "Yes!"

Van Roekel: "Do you really love to read say yes!"

Kids: "Yes!"

The school kids wearing red and white stripped Dr. Seuss hats squirm in their seats before a morning full of reading and story telling. Unlike some kids, these youngsters say they're bookworms -- and proud of it.

"I read like everyday," says eight-year-old Amanda Cintorn-Sentura. She goes to Tierrasanta Elementary in San Diego. "Because I have so many books, and its so fun, I would read anytime I really have time."

And its that love of reading that Read Across America hopes to inspire in kids everywhere. The year-long campaign is one of the most well-known literacy efforts in the country. At its heart are the whimsical books of San Diego's Dr. Seuss.

As part of the kick-off, volunteers sat down with the kids on picnic blankets and cracked opened some of the classics.

The campaign's goal this year is to fight the summer reading loss. Research shows the reading skills of kids who don't pick up books during the summer are set-back by three months. That means they're academically behind once they return to school in September.

Campaign organizer Rae Baczek says they're trying to prevent that by showing kids reading outside of the classroom can be fun.

"Reading is so important, unfortunately, during the school year, kids have to read certain books. So this is the time they can develop a relationship with an author they like, or if they like to read fantasy books," Baczek said.

Fantasy is exactly the genre students Sarah Jones and Madison Napurano love. They say reading is much more than just opening a book.

Jones: "Its like going into a different world and you learn about things."

Napurano: "I think its really fund to read because its teacher you something too teachers you a lesson -- something you do but you don't have to do."

Tintocalis: "So what do you say to kids who don't want to open a book, that its too much work?"

Napurano: "Well, I would say it takes some practice, but as soon as you start reading a couple books, it starts becoming a habit."

And to that end the kids took an oath to read throughout the summer -- and encourage their friends to read books as well. Organizer Rae Baczek says she hopes this new generation will see the value in opening up a good book.

"I think having something in my hand and flipping through pages is just so important," Baczek said. "Because you can it read again and again. And I think the rereading is just as important as the original reading."

The Read Across America campaign is organized by the National Education Association which is holding its annual meeting in San Diego this week. Reading events at San Diego libraries will take place throughout the year.

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