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East Multnomah County schools celebrate Read Across America and Dr. Seuss' birthday

COURTESY PHOTO: REYNOLDS SCHOOL DISTRICT - Wilkes Elementary School Principal Sarah Shields greets students with stickers at the Dr. Seuss Family night, Thursday, Feb. 28. Wilkes Elementary School culminated a weeklong celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday with a family night Thursday, Feb. 28. Wilkes was one of many schools in the area that use the beloved author's birthday as a way to celebrate reading and literacy.

"It was amazing," Sarah Shields, principal of Wilkes said of the Thursday evening gathering.

Dr. Seuss, the pen name of Theodor Seuss Geisel, wrote and illustrated dozens of children's books which are among the most popular ever. Five of his books are among the top 20 best selling children's books of all time, according to Publisher's Weekly.

The National Education Association started Read Across America in 1998 to coincide with Dr. Seuss' March 2 birthday. Schools and libraries nationwide celebrate Read Across America with parties, "celebrity" readers and fun literacy activities.

Students at Hogan Cedars Elementary School in the Gresham-Barlow District listened to stories read by Gresham's first father, Mayor Shane Bemis and other celebs. The two Hogan kindergarten classes also got free books from the mayor. Bemis is reading to fourth-graders at Hall Elementary School this week. COURTESY PHOTO: REYNOLDS SCHOOL DISTRICT - Wilkes students crafted edible hats from the iconic book Cat in the Hat.

At the new Wilkes school, in the Reynolds School District, each grade is centered together in a "pod" and Shields said there was a different Dr. Seuss or literacy activity in each pod on Family night. There was also a book fair where families could buy books and literacy games.

In the week leading up to the Dr. Seuss Family Night, Wilkes students had reading-related fun every day. On Monday, for example, they honored the Dr. Seuss book "Fox in Socks" by wearing silly or mismatched socks.

Thursday pupils wore their favorite hat as a tip of the chapeau to the Dr. Seuss classic "Cat in the Hat."

"It was really fun for families," Shields said of Family Night.

Although there was an emphasis on reading and books, Shields said the main goal of the event was to bring families together to enjoy family time at the school. Shields said they kept the event fairly simple so parents didn't have to volunteer and could enjoy the evening with their families.

"It's an opportunity for kids to draw silly Dr. Seuss characters with their parents," she said. "It's so fun to see the kids in their element with their parents." COURTESY PHOTO: REYNOLDS SCHOOL DISTRICT - Lets take a photo of you in your hat!

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