Hundreds of students, parents and teachers gathered on the blacktop of Palisades Charter Elementary School Monday morning to celebrate Read Across America Day—an annual event where students reflect on the importance of reading and read some of their favorite books.
This year’s Read Across America campaign celebrates our nation of diverse readers, with books from authors around the world.
Pali Elementary Principal Gary Saunders, sporting a red-and-white top hat à lá “Cat in the Hat,” took the stage to address the crowd.
“Good morning, boys and girls,” Saunders said. “Happy Read Across America Day celebration. We’re here today to remind ourselves how important reading is. Reading is so important—I couldn’t get where I am without reading. I learned all the major truths I need to know about this world through reading.”
Saunders introduced several guest speakers who explained what reading meant to them, beginning with LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin.
“Good morning everyone—it’s very nice to be back at Pali Elementary. I always get out-hatted by Principal Saunders,” Melvoin joked. “I am so excited to be here today.”
Melvoin asked the students to raise their hands if they liked to read. Many hands shot up. When he asked if there were any students who didn’t like to read, a few raised their hands.
“I knew there’d be a few hands that didn’t like to read,” Melvoin said. “That’s OK. We want to be honest … if you don’t like reading, you just haven’t found the right book.”
Captain Erik Schneider, Engineer Steve Shelp and firefighter Kristine Priebe from Los Angeles Fire Department Station 69 stopped by and shared the impact reading has had on their lives.
“I want to share with you guys—I actually have dyslexia and ADHD,” Priebe explained to the audience. “I used to go all around the country and we used to mentor kids just like you who had a hard time reading—and I have a hard time reading.”
The Palisades Charter High School Marching Band, led by Alex Dale, played Bruce Channel’s “I Wanna Know if You’ll Be My Girl.”
Pali Elementary librarian Jane Jaffe took the stage next.
“There’s a German author named Heinrich Mann who said, ‘A house without books is like a room without a window,’” Jaffe said. “Books feed our imagination and, as I’ve told you a million times, you’re only limited by your imagination. So let’s grab a book.”
The Pali High Dance Team performed with choreography set to a hip-hop song. The marching band followed up with a spirited rendition of the school rouser accompanied with impressive moves from the dance team.
After the performance, students filed out by grade to different classrooms where guest speakers read to them and discussed with them the joys that reading offers.
In the computer lab, Melvoin read students “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss.
“Why do you think the other guy doesn’t like green eggs?” Melvoin asked the students. Hands shot up.
“Because they’re past the expiration date!” was one answer.
“That could definitely be—you always want to check the date,” Melvoin replied.