Sharing the Joy of Reading: Read Across America 2016 Recap

By Mary Ann Pierce
GFWC Education Chairman

Promoting literacy is a year-round activity for GFWC clubs, but Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2, known as Read Across America Day, gives members an opportunity to share their love of reading. Clubwomen across the country participated in this annual event, reading to elementary school students, dressing up as Dr. Seuss characters, and truly living up to the famous quote, “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”

Clubwomen love to read. From belonging in Epsilon Sigma Omicron to sharing their favorite books on GFWC’s Facebook page, members are enthusiastic about reading aloud to children and increasing literacy rates in their communities. Clubwomen impress me with their love of literature but also their willingness to share this love. Every day should be celebrated with reading to a class, a grandchild, a friend, or just for your own pleasure. As a former teacher, I found the more a child is read to, the more their reading ability improves. GFWC has supported libraries, schools, and our children’s future success in school. Let’s continue to keep that legacy strong.

We hope you enjoy this collection of quotes and photos from some of the clubs who participated in Read Across America 2016! Check out the GFWC Education Community Service Program in the 2014-2016 Club Manual for project ideas related to education and literacy.

GFWC Dublin San Ramon Women’s Club (California)
Ten club members were assigned to public schools in the community to read to elementary school students. They came prepared with Dr. Seuss books and hats, as well as pictures and articles about Dr. Seuss. Clubwomen taught students the importance of being a good reader, and served as ambassadors for GFWC.

One volunteer was asked by a student if she was Mrs. Seuss. Another volunteer was asked if she was a grandma and if she knew Dr. Seuss!

“The bottom line is we left with a smile on our face. And we spent the day being positive ambassadors for GFWC,” said Joan Ernst, the club’s president.

Pat Martin and Marilee Stefenhagen represented Norwalk Woman’s Club as guest readers at Lampton Elementary School.

 GFWC Norwalk Woman’s Club (California)
Pat Martin and Marilee Stefenhagen represented the Norwalk Woman’s Club as guest readers to a second grade class at Lampton Elementary School.

As a retired librarian, this Read Across America celebration gave me the chance to dust off my storytelling skills and share puppets again with the second graders,” Marilee said.

Pat and Marilee were even treated to lunch after reading to the class.

“My granddaughter went to this elementary school, so I especially enjoy coming back to this campus to interact with the children,” Pat said.

The GFWC North Pinellas Woman’s Club celebrates Dr. Seuss’s Birthday.

GFWC North Pinellas Woman’s Club (Florida)
The GFWC North Pinellas Woman’s Club loves to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday every year.
This year, the club visited two elementary schools and read to classrooms at two different schools. Members also conduct book and craft activity  second graders at one of the schools every month. This month’s craft was a Cat in the Hat paper plate craft. Even though every child received the same pieces, every face was as individualized as the kids themselves.

“We have as much fun as the kids! One of our members even has Cat in the Hat slippers she wears when we read,” said

Doris Hoenig of the Stone Mountain Woman’s Club reads to a group of children.

GFWC Stone Mountain Woman’s Club (Georgia)
Barbara Luton, president of the GFWC Stone Mountain Woman’s Club, participated in Read Across America Day along with several other members of the Stone Mountain Woman’s Club.

“The class was very attentive which made it so much fun for me to read. I thought the books might be a little young for fourth graders, but they participated and really seemed to delight in Dr. Seuss’ funny words,” Barbara said. “It always amazes me and thrills me that children of any age love to hear the books read to them.”

Under the leadership of Education Community Service Project Co-Chairs Doris Hoenig and Kathy Gallo, several other members of the Stone Mountain Woman’s Club also read to students at the school.

“The best part about reading to the children was that after I finished reading, I got lots of hugs,” Doris said.

The Woman’s Club of Parsippany-Troy Hills donated “Oh Say Can You Say” and “Great Day for Up” to the Parsippany Library System to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2. Pictured are club members Cathy Haney, Mary Ann Coyne, Stephanie LiCausi, Janet Reilly, and Joan Garbarino; and library staff members Melissa Okerblom, Corinne Markey, Jenn Carlin, and Rose Schulman.

GFWC Woman’s Club of Parsippany Troy-Hills (New Jersey)
In celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, members read to the children at the Parsippany Child Day Care Center. Clubwomen also donated a copy of “What Pet Should I Get” to the Day Care Center Library and provided afternoon snacks to the children at a Dr. Seuss party! As part of their annual Dr. Seuss Project, copies of “Oh, Say Can You Say” and “Great Day for Up” were donated to the Parsippany Library System.

“Reading to the children is always so much fun! They were really excited about having visitors read to them and had lots of funny comments and questions. Our club has been involved with the Parsippany Child Day Care Center since the 1960s. It is an important endeavor for us,” said Joan Garbarino, Dr. Seuss Project Leader and Cathy Cerbo, Education Chairman.

Denise Sellers and Deborah Mervine of the Haddon Fortnightly.

The Haddon Fortnightly (New Jersey)
Members purchased three books about inspirational women and girls, and distributed these books in a local laundromat, along with a note inviting a child to take the book home to read. The books included “Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words,” “From Amelia to Zora: Twenty Six Women Who Changed the World,” and “Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women.”

“I have found tremendous joy in going into a classroom with a book I love, taking along all sorts of homemade props and stuffed characters from the story and trinkets to enhance the experience, and having a group of children gathered in front of me, totally caught up in the story,” said Denise Sellers, the club’s Education Chairman. “Their rapt attention, their anticipation as the tale unfolds, their laughter as characters do silly things … together we ride the story to the conclusion, then have a wonderful time sharing our thoughts and feelings about what we read.”

Denise’s enthusiasm for books has spread to other members, inspiring the club to buy books for a pediatric cancer center waiting room and a Chinese food takeout restaurant, as well as donating copies of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” to a middle school science classroom in a needy school district in Texas through a Go Fund Me site. The club also donates books to the local library in memory or in honor of members from time to time.