A baby goat was just one of many unusual visitors present at Clackamas River and River Mill Elementary Schools last week as students celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday.
Established by the National Education Association 20 years ago, Read Across America Day celebrates literacy and Dr. Seuss's birthday on March 2. Some school districts, including Estacada, extend the festivities for an entire week.
School leaders said they hope the week's activities excite students about reading.
"The primary goal is to get students excited and engaged with reading," said Amy Hudson, principal at Clackamas River Elementary. "Reading can be fun, and it's a life-long skill."
Both schools had several people stop by throughout the week to reinforce this message.
On Wednesday, Mayor Sean Drinkwine visited kindergarten classes at River Mill Elementary to read Dr. Seuss' "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish."
"I felt this was something I could really get behind," Drinkwine said. "I love reading becoming important to the kids."
Drinkwine selected the book, which tells the story of two children and the many animals that they befriend, because he liked its message.
"It really says things," he said. "Pets are important."
Amanda Alwine, who teaches kindergarten at River Mill Elementary, thought Drinkwine's visit was an exciting learning experience.
"When kids see adults reading, it shows them it's a lifelong skill and not just something done in school," she said. "Seeing community members and people outside of school reading is valuable. It's also a teachable moment — we can learn who the mayor is."
Clackamas River Elementary had several visitors, as well. During the school's "Community Reader Day," volunteers from organizations such as the Estacada Rural Fire District and the National Wildlife Federation read to students.
"It was a great way to get the community involved and educate the kids about the people who surround the school community," Hudson explained.
Many of the week's activities at both schools centered around reading as a community. Students and staff at River Mill Elementary all read Betty G. Birney's "The World According to Humphrey."
Teresa Lewis, a reading teacher at River Mill, said it was "fun to have everyone all on board" with the same book.
"It's like a school wide book club," she said. "There's a real enthusiasm and cohesiveness."
At Clackamas River Elementary, students collectively worked toward reaching 4,760 minutes of reading for the week. In total, students
read for more than 23,000 minutes.
Because students exceeded their reading goal, Hudson spent the morning reading to a goat in a boat in the front entryway of the school.
Winter Palmeter, a student at Estacada Middle School, brought a month and a half old goat named BB — short for Black Beauty. To the delight of students who were eager to meet the goat, Hudson and BB sat in an inflatable boat and read stories with different classes for several hours.
Lewis saw many valuable aspects to the schools reading as a community.
"It encourages kids to see reading as positive and allows them to see that (adults) also get excited about reading," she said.
Dr. Seuss may have been born more than 110 years ago, but his legacy still inspires readers of all ages.
For Lewis, an element of his stories that stand out is their creative nature.
"They're fun to listen to and fun to read," she said. "They're colorful and spark the imagination. The rhyming is fabulous. It's a great way to develop phonetic awareness."
Hudson believes it's valuable that Dr. Seuss's works have impacted multiple generations.
"The life lessons are so creatively intertwined with humor," she said. "All teachers and educators have favorite Dr. Seuss stories that they pass down to the kids."