Millions to participate In NEA's Read Across America Day celebrations

There's only one event that will get teachers, principals and school employees to dye their hair blue, cook up a breakfast of green eggs and ham, or be duct-taped to a wall if it boosts their students' enthusiasm to read.  Nearly 45 million are joining the National Education Association in the ninth annual Read Across America Day, to bring the gift of reading to children who have been affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Starting this month, Read Across America will travel to the Gulf Coast region on a Reading Relief Tour to visit public school libraries impacted by the hurricanes.  Three Cat-A-Van tours will kick-off in Mobile, Ala., Jackson, Miss., and Houston on Feb. 28, and will culminate in the New Orleans area with Read Across America Day on March 2 -- the birthday of beloved children's author Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. 

"As millions of schoolchildren open up a book this Read Across America Day, we wanted to ensure that those who have lost so much during the devastating hurricanes can also be in the company of a good book," said NEA President Reg Weaver.

The tour route will include book donations and read-in stops in more than 26 Gulf Coast cities, including Baton Rouge, La., Beaumont, Texas, and Biloxi, Miss. During the tour, a host of celebrities, athletes and public figures will participate in reading events and drop off books to public school libraries and their students.

In addition to bringing books to public school libraries in the Gulf Coast region, the nation's largest reading celebration includes local activities that excite and encourage children of all ages to read -- on March 2 and throughout the year. 

Last year, a new Spanish language program, "Lea con la NEA!"("Read with NEA”), began to reach out to the Latino community.  The Spanish language program provides parents, educators and students with reading materials and resources.

"We know that kids who read -- and are read to -- do better in school and in life, but the challenge for parents and educators is getting children excited about reading,"said Weaver.  "NEA's Read Across America Day is a party with a purpose because it shows kids that reading can be fun.”

For the first time ever, Read Across America will introduce an official song for the program's 2006 activities. "My Time," from the critically acclaimed Kindred the Family Soul, was selected as the Read Across America's 2006 theme song because it stresses the importance of making reading a family affair.  "My Time" will be played during Read Across America activities and events taking place around the country.

Visit www.nea.org/readacross for the latest information and a listing of events happening around the country.