Dozens of dignitaries participate in annual Read Across America event for third-grade students
Published in the March 14 – 27, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life
Dr. Seuss was on the loose as students in school learned that books are cool. Local leaders served as readers and found a way on Read Across America Day to give third-grade students a literary thrill in classrooms across Morgan Hill.
Among the Barrett Elementary School guest readers at the March 2 national reading celebration, Morgan Hill Police Officer Erik Adams sat with the students in Jennifer Myers’ classroom and read “The Bad Seed” published in 2017. The humorous picture book by Jory John tells the tale of a bad guy who makes an important and life-changing realization that people will like him if he is nice to them.
Read Across America Day began in 1997 and is held annually on the birthday of children’s book author Dr. Seuss (the pseudonym for Theodor Seuss Geisel). Created by the National Education Association, it serves as an initiative to encourage reading.
“We got an email from the City Manager (Christina Turner’s) office asking for people to read for the Read Across America program. And I responded to that email,” Adams said. “I had never met this class before. I had no idea which class I was going to. And what’s special about it is that I got to come here and meet them today and I think we had a pretty good time together, right?”
The children agreed with nods and “yeahs.”
Myers commented to the officer: “You can tell this is not the first time for you reading to children.”
“Yeah, I’ve got five,” Adams said. Previous to his career as a cop, he worked as a teacher at Crossroads Christian School, he said.
He encouraged the students to build up their reading skills and grow their love of learning through books.
“I loved to read when I was a kid. I was the kind of kid who would get under my covers with a flashlight and would read incessantly,” he said. “I would read anything I could get my hands on. My favorite series was the Hardy Boys.”
Reading books helps people learn new things by themselves, he said. They learn from the words on the pages.
“When you read something, it’s actually knowledge that you gain on your own,” Adams told the third-graders. “So, you go from your teacher telling you everything to reading the information by yourself. And when you read by yourself, it empowers you to learn all the more.”
Adventures also abound in the pages of a storybook, he said.
“You can go anywhere in a book,” he said. “It opens up your imagination and lets you kind of dream about what you might want to do in your life based on some of the books you’ve read. You can set goals and see what you might want to do.”
Adams recalled that when he was a child reading storybooks he would put unique voices on the dialogue of the people in the stories.
“For some reason I would hear the characters’ voices, so when I watched a movie from the book I read, the voices never matched what I heard in my head,” he said. “It always threw a curveball at me.”
Several of the students described their reading experiences to the officer.
Julianna explained she “kind of” likes reading depending on how exciting the story is.
“Sometimes, like, when I read a book already, sometimes I go through the book and read a couple of pages and then I get bored and go to the back and I read it over again,” she said.
Arianna told the officer, “I like to read books because I can see the funny things the characters do because I like funny books.”
Nathan explained why he enjoyed listening to Adams read the “The Bad Seed” to the class.
“It was fun. It was exciting for us to see him because he’s a police officer,” the third-grader said. “I thought ‘The Bad Seed’ was going to be happy at the end, and at the end of the book it was happy.”
His classmate Leo said he likes fiction because it helps him learn about people from other countries.
Myers brought up the point to the class on the importance of reading and how learning this vital skill can help the students later in life.
“What do I tell you guys?” she asked. “When you want to have nice things in your life like a house or a car, what do you need to get first?”
Several students shouted out the answer: “Your education.”
Selected by her colleagues as the 2017 Teacher of the Year for the Morgan Hill Unified School District, Myers tells her class reading opens the doors to fun. She noted the students enjoyed meeting officers with the Morgan Hill Police Department who serve as role models on how vital reading is for the public safety occupations they choose as their careers.
“The MHPD has done such a great job of community outreach to our third-grade classes,” she said. “This is our fourth visit by the police this year. They did a talk with us about making good choices and really getting your education. And now we have officer Adams. I really just want to compliment the department because they do an amazing job of outreach.”