The Greencastle Middle School bus pulled up to the doorway and students headed into classrooms with their two or three younger students in tow.
They sat at tables and on the floor and listened raptly as the sixth-graders read Dr. Seuss books like "Green Eggs and Ham" and "There's a Wocket in my Pocket."
"This is a lot of fun," several students said "I want to do it every day."
The program is a literacy project aimed at encouraging readers, both young and old, to celebrate reading.
On NEA's Read Across America Day, parents, grandparents and caregivers are all reminded to join in on the fun because you're never too old, too wacky or too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.
In May 1997, a small reading task force at NEA came up with a big idea.
"Let's create a day to celebrate reading. We hold pep rallies to get kids excited about football. We assemble to remember that Character Counts. Why don't we do something to get kids excited about reading? We'll call it 'NEA's Read Across America' and we'll celebrate it on Dr. Seuss's birthday," said the NEA Web site.
And so the largest celebration of reading this country has ever seen was born on March 2, 1998.
The purpose is to motivate children to read as an important factor in student achievement and in creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are more motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.
In addition to the 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers who make up NEA membership, some 50 national organizations and associations give their support.
NEA's Read Across America doesn't stop with the March 2 celebration. In fact, Read Across America keeps the spotlight on reading all year long through such events as Teen Read Week, Drop Everything and Read Day, and International Literacy Day.
Dr. Seuss epitomizes a love of children and learning. Also, his use of rhyme makes his books an effective tool for teaching young children the basic skills they need to be successful. When we celebrate Dr. Seuss and reading, we send a clear message to America's children that reading is fun and important.