Program part of national Read Across America celebration and Orange County United Way’s ongoing “OC Reads” effort promoting early grade reading
Santa Ana, CA – Thousands of local elementary school students celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday yesterday by reading books with volunteers comprised of professionals from the Orange County business community.
The reading event, spearheaded by Orange County United Way in partnership with the Santa Ana Unified School District, was part of the national “Read Across America” Day in which students throughout the nation, read books on what would have been the beloved author’s 112th birthday. It also coincides with the kickoff of Read Aloud Month, when adults are encouraged to read out loud with the children in their lives for 15 minutes every day.
“It’s amazing what happens when a child opens a new book for the first time,” explained Max Gardner, Orange County United Way’s President and CEO, “A whole new world reveals itself to them.”
Gardner, who read to students at Heroes Elementary School in Santa Ana, continued, “When we read to kids we’re not just telling a story. We’re opening their imaginations to all sorts of possibilities. By lending time and providing the tools and resources to schools, after school programs, pediatric offices and libraries, together, we can keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year.”
Studies show that when parents read to their young children, those kids are more likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade, a key milestone on the road to on-time graduation and a successful career. Early grade reading is a vital component of Orange County United Way’s 10-year FACE 2024 communitywide action plan, to cut Orange County’s high school dropout rate in half by 2024.
Joining Gardner and United Way volunteers reading to students at Heroes Elementary was John Palacio, Board of Education President for the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD), public safety officers from the Santa Ana Police Department and the California Highway Patrol and local education leaders.
“There’s no better way to celebrate Read Across America Day than by reading books to children today,” said Nadia Hillman, Executive Director of Elementary Education for SAUSD. “Children are inherently curious so immersing themselves in books allows the imagination to run wild while connecting and engaging with the world around them.”
Others reading to the students at various locations were team members from Mazda, IBM, UCI’s Beta Alpha Psi honor society and United Way, along with numerous community volunteers.
Orange County United Way is in the second year of its FACE 2024 communitywide action plan to address critical community needs in the areas of Education, Income, Health and Housing within the next decade. OC Reads was established as one component of the key transition points that lead to academic success. Because parents are the first teachers, they play an active, ongoing role in their kids’ development. The more parents are involved before and during school, the more children are able to learn reading and succeed.
Katherine Ransom, Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Orange County United Way 949.263.6176, firstname.lastname@example.org
21Strat 949.981.5008, email@example.com
ABOUT ORANGE COUNTY UNITED WAY:
Since 1924, Orange County United Way has been working to improve lives and strengthen our community by mobilizing the caring power of Orange County and focusing on the building blocks for a good quality of life: Education, Income, Health and Housing. By investing in Orange County children, families and individuals, we help them create pathways to self-sufficient lives. In short, we help people help themselves. Through our 10-year community-wide action plan, FACE 2024 (an acronym for Fund, Advocate, Collaborate, Educate), we collaborate with local businesses, community organizations, governmental agencies and individuals to make a long-term measurable difference in the lives of local individuals and families. To learn more or to join our movement, visit www.unitedwayoc.org.