TEMPLE HILLS – Dominic Robinson-Buchanan, an 8-year-old at Samuel Chase Elementary School, already knows how important reading is.
He loves to read and make stories come alive, and on Wednesday, March 2, he had the opportunity to listen to Kevin Maxwell, chief executive officer of Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), read a story.
Maxwell, along with dozens of leaders across the county including board of education members, county council members and first responders, and with hundreds of leaders across the country, walked into the classroom last week to read a story and celebrate the life of Dr. Seuss.
The National Education Association began Read Across America in 1997 to commemorate the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss, and to motivate students to read through events such as guest readings and by providing resources to the students.
Maxwell said Dr. Seuss is timeless and is a great way to introduce children to reading.
“It doesn’t get old and I think the rhyming makes it fun for kids. He turns a word pretty well and I think that it’s the rhyming and the use of words and the made-up words that makes reading playful, makes it fun, but underscores the importance,” he said.
The Judy P. Hoyer Family Learning Center at Samuel Chase celebrated Read Across America Day in collaboration with the Raising a Reader program, which provides children with take-home library books to enjoy on a weekly basis. Together, the two programs hope to foster a life-long love of books and reading.
Lisa Sampson, the instruction coordinator for the Judy Centers in Prince George’s County, said Read Across America is one of many celebrations focused on reading that the center takes part in.
“We thought today would be a wonderful day to highlight the work that we are already doing in our Judy Centers and across the school system by inviting our CEO to enjoy with us today,” Sampson said. “And the kids were really excited.”
Maxwell sat before the students, who sang him a song, before he began reading “What Pet Should I Get?” As he read he asked the students questions about their pets and had them consider which pet the characters should buy.
Afterward each student received a book to take home.
“I liked the book that he read because it was one of the new books and I wanted to know if (Dr. Suess) put out any new books, so now I know that he put out a new book,” Robinson-Buchanan said.
Maxwell said reading to the children each year is one of his favorite events. Maxwell got a lot of invitations to read, but said he chose Samuel Chase because it had a Judith P. Hoyer Center, where he had an opportunity to reach out to “the earliest readers.”
PGCPS has in recent years, with its new strategic pan, put a further emphasis on literacy in the county. Maxwell said it is incredibly important to start reading with young children to foster a love for reading at an early age.
“Whether it’s at home with your child sitting on the sofa next to you, or on your knee or on the rocking chair with you or on the floor, it’s important to read to your children at the earliest age,” he said.
Maxwell said it doesn’t matter what is read, whether it’s picture books, chapter books, fantasy or history, so long as parents get their children to look at books or “just get them to turn the page.”
“You’re always going to need to be able to read the written word, no matter what format it is written in. And maybe I’m a little old fashioned; I still get a newspaper and I still like to read books. Some of the books I read are on my Nook, some of them are actual still books,” Maxwell said.
Everything from mail to work notes to math word problems requires reading comprehension, Maxwell said.
Robinson-Buchanan said he already knows how important it is to learn and to read.
“If you can’t read, then you can’t do what you want to do when you grow up,” he said.