Julie Metz, former librarian at Traina Elementary School, took a break from her job as a homemaker for her husband and two children Monday to read to more than 800 kindergarten- through eighth-grade students.
She dressed in a fuzzy Cat in the Hat uniform, drew three whiskers on either side of her temporarily blackened nose and secured a tall, white-and-red-striped hat before she stepped in front of her first audience of students to read “Cat in the Hat,” by Dr. Seuss.
By the end of the day, 48-year-old Metz had read the book, the text riddled with tongue-twisters, 10 times through.
She was one of several people masquerading as the Cat in the Hat at local elementary schools this week to kick off a national celebration of Read Across America and the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
“A lot of parents commute now and don’t have time to read to their kids,” Metz said after an energetic reading to a roomful of fifth-graders. “I love to get the kids into it and show them that reading is fun and important.”
Eight-year-old Sarah Sailors needs little convincing to crack open a book. She says her nose is buried between the pages of Disney books for two hours a night.
“I like how the characters do funny stuff,” Sarah said.
Her 13-year-old sister, Elizabeth Sailors, says she prefers science fiction, and 13-year-old Anthony Auten leans toward mysteries.
“If you figure out what you’re interested in, you can probably find a book about it,” Anthony said.
Ten-year-old Arashdeeb Dhadwar, who considers fantasy books her favorite, said she’s excited to read to younger students later this week.
“It’s fun to set an example,” she said. “They should always read. It helps your education, and it’s fun.”
Several Traina parents will read in classrooms today to continue the weeklong celebration.
Students will also draw literacy-themed posters in what teachers call a cutthroat competition for a chance to win a classroom pizza party.
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