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Leaders teach students importance of reading

It could be said the hardest part about teaching a child to read isn’t the mechanics. It’s helping them understand its importance.

To help bring meaning to literacy, business and government leaders participated this week in Oakland Elementary School’s Hats Off to Seuss, during which they read Dr. Seuss books and discussed their careers with the students.

“Reading books is so much more than seeing words on a page,” school librarian Michele Waggoner said. “We wanted to show the children that it can be fun and what they can achieve with reading. Being successful readers can mean they can have successful and fun careers.”

Readers included business and nonprofit leaders, Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Milton Liverman and Assistant Superintendent Deran Whitney, Suffolk City Councilman Joseph Barlow, Diana Williams from the office of Congressman Randy Forbes, and Assistant Secretary of Education for the Governor Doug Garcia.

“We started the event by getting people around the city to participate, and it expanded to guests like Mr. Garcia, Ms. Williams and Mr. Barlow,” Waggoner said. “By them putting an importance on reading, I think it really shows kids what they can do with it.”

Before reading the Dr. Seuss book of their choice, many readers shared details about their job.

“It’s been a special opportunity for the children,” said third-grade teacher Kristen Petrelli. “We’re going over government in class, so it was especially neat for Mr. Garcia to be able to come and talk to the class about his job, how it works and his story. He really connected with the students, and they had so many questions for him.”

Garcia said he was there to help promote literacy because of its integral role in every aspect of a child’s education.

“Literacy is the most important indicator of how well a student is going to do in school,” Garcia said. “If a student isn’t reading at grade level by third grade, it will affect their performance in all other subjects. It’s important to let children know the importance of reading.”