Virginia Beach Celebrates Read Across America Day on March 2nd

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The City of Virginia Beach will join the National Education Association (NEA) and Dr. Seuss Enterprises for Read Across America Day on March 2. More than 85 community volunteers, including Virginia Beach Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr., will read to more than 4,000 students in 105 Virginia Beach early care and education programs.

"Our focus on reading is an important City initiative," said Sessoms. "We want to prepare our future leaders for success in the 21st century."

Read Across America Day highlights the importance of reading aloud to children. Each child who participates will receive a Dr. Seuss book "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut" to continue reading at home with their family.

"Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers," shared Barb Lito, GrowSmart coordinator. "Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school. Committed families and communities can make a huge difference in our children's reading ability."

VB ReadsThis year, a Read Across America Spirit Night event and book drive will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on March 2 at the Chick-fil-A at Haygood Shopping Center, 1097 Independence Blvd. Families can read with the Chick-fil-A Cow and the Cat in the Hat while visiting the bookmobile. Children who bring a book for the book drive will receive a FREE ice cream cone.

NEA's Read Across America Day, which celebrates Dr. Seuss's birthday and the joys of reading, encourages more than 45 million young and old readers to pick up a book and read. GrowSmart and the Virginia Beach READS team invite the community to join NEA and many of America's leading literacy, youth and civic groups in bringing a nation of readers together under one hat — the red and white stovepipe made famous by the Cat in the Hat — for a flurry (or furry) of reading excitement!

Reading on grade level is a critical milestone in a child's educational and future life success. Studies show that the number of words a child knows when entering kindergarten is predictive of future learning success.  Additionally, children who fall behind are likely to stay that way, and a child not reading at grade level by the end of first grade has an 88 percent chance of not reading at grade level by the end of fourth grade. Children not reading proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school.

As a member of the national network of communities across the United States that have joined the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Virginia Beach READS focuses on three pillars of success proven to directly impact reading proficiency in the early years. By emphasizing the importance of school readiness, summer learning, daily attendance and reading by grade level, Virginia Beach READS is committed to moving the needle on third-grade reading.  Community partners in the local campaign include Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Virginia Beach Libraries, Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation, Volunteer Resource Office, United Way and GrowSmart.

GrowSmart is operated through the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development. GrowSmart exists to promote and improve the healthy development, school readiness and reading proficiency of young children ages 0-8. In addition to providing resources for parents and families, GrowSmart also offers programming to ensure the availability of high quality early education. Visit more information.

The mission of the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development is to attract and retain national and international businesses to stimulate capital investment and create jobs. Virginia Beach is the most populous city in Virginia with a population of 450,000, and it is the 37th largest in the United States. It is recognized as one of the Best Run Cities in America by 24/7 Wall St. The Department of Economic Development received re-accreditation through the International Economic Development Council in 2012 and is one of only 50 economic development organizations in the world to have this recognition. It is listed among the Top Five Overall Mid-sized American Cities of the Future, Top 10 for Economic Potential and Top Five for Infrastructure by fDi magazine. ranked Virginia Beach as the Easiest Place to Start a Business and the 2nd Most Business-Friendly City in the country. For more information, visit

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