Crowd-pleasing literacy celebration continues to grow

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Hundreds expected to converge at CASH for ‘Read Across America’ on Friday

By Kathleen Brady SheaManaging Editor, The Times

West Caln Township Police Chief Curt Martinez, who read a Dr. Seuss book during the 2013 “Read Across America” program, will return for this year’s event.

West Caln Township Police Chief Curt Martinez, who read a Dr. Seuss book during the 2013 “Read Across America” program, will return for this year’s event.

Don’t let the heavy police presence deter you from attending the annual “Read Across America” festivities planned for Coatesville Area Senior High School on Friday night: Local gendarmes will be having as much fun as the hundreds of families who’ve learned that this is a not-to-be-missed event.

The law-enforcement contingent will promote literacy through entertainment by reading from a tongue-twisting selection of Dr. Seuss books – just one of the myriad activities that will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the high school.

Third-time co-chairs Traci Tury, a Kings Highway kindergarten teacher, and Michele Ollis, a Reeceville Elementary primary learning support teacher, said they began their planning during last year’s extravaganza, which drew about 700, a number that increases each year.

Lt. James Audette was one of numerous representatives from the Coatesville Police Department during the 2013  ”Read Across America” festivities.

At the time, the pair couldn’t have anticipated this year’s weather, but the selection of guest auth0r/illustrator Lee Harper should especially resonate with participants: One of Harper’s books is Snow! Snow! Snow! Other titles includeThe Emperor’s Cool ClothesTurkey Trouble, and Woolbur.

Hosted by the Coatesville Area Teacher Association (CATA) with support from the Coatesville Area School District, the “Read Across America” event has proven so popular that this year’s version features an extra hour to squeeze in more attractions, specifically a free concert from 8 to 9 p.m. by crowd-pleasing singer/songwriter John Flynn. Before that – in addition to watching law enforcement go by the book – attendees will be treated to spellbinding tales from local storyteller Deb Pieri.

Besides stories, a variety of craft stations, opportunities for physical activity in the gym, light refreshments, and a raffle with donations from local businesses will be available. The CHIP Program will be offering child identification kits, and Chester County Dental and Paoli Hospital will be among the organizations hosting booths.

Tury and Ollis said the celebration of literacy would not be possible without the more than 100 energetic, community volunteers who lend a hand. Organizers also received a boost from this year’s student assistants, who have come from the Coatesville Youth Initiative, Joint Service’s Military Corps (formerly ROTC), and Chester County Futures.

The “Read Across America” program, an offshoot of a national initiative, began in 1997 when a reading task force at the National Education Association (NEA) suggested “a day to celebrate reading,” according to the NEA web site. They reasoned that an activity proven to boost student achievement in school certainly deserved widespread festivities. And since one of children’s most beloved authors is Dr. Seuss, the event occurs each year on or near his birthday, which is March 2.

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