The United Way of Kern County (UWKC) hosted the 5th annual Read Across America Day event on Feb. 28 at various elementary schools across Bakersfield, one of which was Edison Pre-School.
Children arrived at school dressed up in Dr. Seuss themed outfits and gathered around to read a book together.
Every volunteer reader gathered in the main office and was distributed to each classroom.
Two officers from the Kern County Sheriff’s Department volunteered to read to a classroom.
One class wore matching Thing One and Thing Two red t-shirts with their names written on the back.
The officers and other volunteers also wore Dr. Seuss gear as they read to the children.
Volunteers had an interactive reading session with the children asking questions along the way and laughing at pictures in the book.
UWKC’s Early Childhood Development Program Manager, Rachel Hoetker, described how much the children enjoy a day to celebrate Dr. Seuss.
“It’s all about promoting literacy and the children just love having special guests come in to spend time with them. They read, sing and sometimes dance,” Hoetker said.
At the end of the day, each student was given a book to take home.
One of the ways UWKC advocates for childhood literacy is by giving away books to children.
“Over 10,000 books are distributed each year to families through home libraries,” Hoetker said.
23ABC News was also present at Edison Pre-School.
The UWKC focuses on three main topics which are early childhood literacy, financial stability, homelessness, and hunger.
The UWKC’s mission is to mobilize donors, volunteers, and advocates to improve the lives of Kern County residents and their community by helping local people become financially stable and independent.
The UWKC believes early childhood literacy is important because it impacts the child’s future path towards education and future careers.
“Those who are unable to read proficiently by the third or fourth grade are at a much higher risk of failing and ultimately dropping out of school,” the UWKC website stated. “In Kern County, just 36 percent third graders scored ‘proficient’ or above on state standardized reading tests—about 9 percent less than the state average. Our county’s high school dropout rate is 16 percent. We have learned that to ensure kids are reading proficiently in third grade, they must be on track when they enter kindergarten.”