VERNON — Familiar by size and shape and lop-sided hat, a feline guest came to school–the Cat and the Hat.

The iconic children’s storybook character sneakily snuck into Vernon Township’s primary schools, earlier this month, to surprise the unsuspecting students with an unplanned visit! Encouraging the students to read more and to read often, the Cat and the Hat offered the motivation needed for the week’s school-wide educational events.

As part of the Language Arts curricular focus on reading and writing, Vernon Township School District is actively participating in the National Education Association’s Read Across America program to simultaneously celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday and acknowledge their shared love for reading.

On March 2, Vernon elementary students joined students throughout the country to throw a nationwide birthday bash for Dr. Seuss and to jumpstart Read Across America! Now in its twentieth year, Read Across America is a national reading education program that promotes student reading, both in and outside of the classroom, and invites children to select books that spark their personal interests. This read-a-thon event leads into Love of Reading Week at Vernon’s Walnut Ridge, Cedar Mountain and Rolling Hills Primary Schools. During the week of March 6th, the elementary school students participated in “Drop Everything and Read” (D.E.A.R.) and daily Seuss-inspired dress-up themes within their classes. Meanwhile, teachers competed in classroom door decorating contests and awarded a student winner for “Best Book Character Costume.”

Rolling Hills Primary School Principal Dr. Stumper commented, “The students are very enthusiastic about participating in the entire week of activities!”

Already, Read Across America in Vernon Township School District is off to a great start! Standing nine feet tall, with a teetering red-and-white-striped hat on his head, the Cat and the Hat waved to students and teachers, as he walked through the halls of Rolling Hills Primary School. Perhaps the most recognizable of Dr. Seuss’ literary characters, the Cat in the Hat has become a symbol of reading for generations of young learners.

Children often take their first reading “steps” with the fun-loving character and his famed author, learning how to read with the help of rhyming patterns and metered feet that are typically found within the Dr. Seuss’ series. Beloved by children, both young and young-at-heart, Dr. Seuss’ stories have become some of the world’s most famous children’s books and include favorite titles such as Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears a Who, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and — let’s not forget—The Cat in the Hat.

Tiptoeing up to their surprise visitor, students approached the Cat in the Hat and told him about their favorite Dr. Seuss stories. Second-grade teacher Mrs. Reinhardt commented, “Before the Cat in the Hat left, he took pictures with each of the second grade classes.” Adding, “This is certainly a Read Across America the students at Rolling Hills Primary School will never forget!”