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4:42 AM Sat, Oct. 20th

Kids pay homage to Dr. Seuss by reading, reading, reading

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br/>Arizona Sundog Marc Belanger reads to first graders on Thursday at Coyote Springs Elementary School in Prescott Valley as part of the Read Across America week in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br/>Arizona Sundog Marc Belanger reads to first graders on Thursday at Coyote Springs Elementary School in Prescott Valley as part of the Read Across America week in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

A big, pink pig,Dancing a jigWith the Cat in the HatImagine that!Yes, it's true,I saw it, tooAt Lincoln SchoolWhere reading rules.Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!School across the area, Arizona and the nation participated in Read Across America this past week to honor Dr. Seuss' 106th birthday.Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, the author of such books as "Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham," made reading fun for millions of young children.Lincoln Elementary School in Prescott began its reading celebration six weeks ago with the school's annual Read to Feed program.The students agree to read at home, with parents, family and friends pledging money according to the number of minutes the student reads.The students donate the money they raise to Heifer International, an organization that supplies livestock, seeds, training and clean water to people in underprivileged countries. During the past four years, the students at Lincoln have donated $10,000 to Heifer.This year, the students and staff set a goal of reading 75,000 minutes in six weeks. When the students read 75,000 minutes in only three weeks, they increased the goal to 150,000 minutes.Reading teacher Ellen Anderson said the students read a total of 162,651 minutes.The students read at home and parents verify the number of minutes they are reading. Anderson said kindergarteners are encouraged to read 30 minutes each week; first- and second-graders, 45 minutes; and third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, one hour.Lincoln Principal Bucky Bates announced that the students collected $3,173.46 for Heifer.Sunrise Rotary partnered with the school and, because the students reached their reading goal, the club donated $720 to Read to Feed.As a reward for meeting their reading goal, the students asked to see a "big, pink pig dancing a jig."Bates left the stage briefly, returning in a pink pig costume, a gift from the Cat in the Hat.However, neither Bates nor The Cat in the Hat knew how to dance a jig. Fourth-grader Caeden McKelvey taught the pig and the cat a jig.Thirty-seven students read more than 1,000 minutes. Fourth-grader Thea Cline was the top reader, reading 9,900 minutes."Reading is my life," she said. "I like to read fantasy stories and books about magical things like talking animals. I didn't read to win. I read because I like it."The fifth-graders read the most minutes, reading a combined 42,225 minutes.Reading keeps fifth-graders Johnathon Barter and Emma Kelley entertained.Kelley likes to read mysteries and adventures, and her favorite books are poems by author Sharon Creech.Fifth-grader Colton VanGuse reads when he has nothing to do. "I think reading is great, and it makes me smarter," he said.Students at Taylor Hicks Elementary School delayed their Read Across America celebration until Wednesday."It was Happy 106th Birthday and One Day, Dr. Seuss," said Principal Brian Moore.The entire school focused on reading Feb. 3. Students carried books with them all day because they never knew when the announcement would come to "Stop, Drop and Read."Moore said during certain times of the day, the entire school - teachers and students - would all read at the same time, and students participated in "cross-grade" reading, with older students reading to younger students."We also served 550 pieces of birthday cake," he said.The highlight of the day, however, was the afternoon visit from Prescott High School cheerleaders and football players.The high school students visited the classrooms and read to the students.PHS junior and Badger quarterback Cole Johnson read "The Foot Book" to second-graders.He volunteered to visit Taylor Hicks because "I like to read and this helps kids read." Johnson said he reads a lot for school and for enjoyment.Reading specialist Jan Richards said Taylor Hicks students are encourage to read 30 minutes a day at home throughout the school year."We still have kids whose parents can't sit and read with them, or who don't have books in their home," Richards said.Librarian LuAnn Carreras says Read Across America gives students who may be in a reading rut a boost.Today's students are going for "big books. They want Harry Potter and are asking for vampire stories. One of the most popular series is 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid,'" Carreras said.The reading pros at Taylor Hicks believe it is never too early to learn the importance of reading."We give a book to the first 25 babies born at Yavapai Regional Medical Center the week of Dr. Seuss' birthday," Carreras said.