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Base Personnel Participate in Local Read Across America Events

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Approximately 20 Los Angeles AFB military and civilian personnel read to students at various schools across the south bay during the annual Read Across America celebration. March 2 was Dr. Seuss' birthday and most of the events were themed around his stories and held on his actual birthday.

This year, base personnel and their family members read to students at Mark Twain Elementary, Fern Elementary, Los Angeles AFB Child Development Center, Eshelman Elementary, Hermosa View Elementary and Pacific Harbor Christian School.

"It was great. I read two books to a class of first graders; one book was about farming and the other was about a boy who didn't want to share his room with his little brother," said Jeremy Leader, Launch and Range Directorate, of his experience reading at Mark Twain Elementary. "The teacher stopped me every few pages and created an immediate feedback loop with the kids - making each segment a learning experience for the kids. "

Another person from the LR Directorate who read at Mark Twain Elementary was Joshua Carlson.

"Arriving at the school, it was great fun walking up to the gates and the children were already waiting for us. The office staff was very helpful and organized; they sent us to the waiting room (which doubled as a library) where we met the rest of the guys and picked out which books we were going to read. There was one Spanish immersion class that was speaking only Spanish. No one else felt confident taking that one. So, with my two years of university-level Spanish, I felt that I could handle it. I have never had my pronunciation corrected so many times in my life. It must have been several times per sentence to be quite honest," he said.

"Afterward, the children asked me all sorts of questions about being in the Army. (Carlson is in the Army National Guard and wore his uniform to the school.) I answered them in English because I didn't want them to be correcting my grammar as well. Overall, it was a very enjoyable experience and I was able to read Spanglish to the children, both enjoying the experience and the corrections that were needed; and the children seemed to genuinely enjoy me coming to read to them," he said. "One question that stuck out to me at the end was when I told them all that I'd been an English major in college and one of the kids asked why I would need to read in the Army. I told them that to be successful you need to know your enemy and the best way to get knowledge is to read it in a book. The kids seemed rather surprised."

"It was very well-organized and the children were very appreciative. I thoroughly enjoyed time spent with them and look forward to doing it again," said Gary Clark, who read to kindergartners at Mark Twain Elementary.

For Tech. Sgt. Jessie Gregorio, reading to the students at Eshelman Elementary in Torrance was a bit of a homecoming. Not only was this the third year he participated in Read Across America at the school, he also attended the school during 2nd and 3rd grades.

"Once my class arrived, we were all ready for story time. I'm always amazed at how captivated kids can be by the familiar sounds of Dr. Seuss. I was nervous at first that I wouldn't be able to hold their attention, but my fears were quickly assuaged while 15 well-behaved students sat enraptured by And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street, "said Lt. Kristen Hoover, Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate who read to students at Hermosa View Elementary.

Sponsored by the National Education Association, Read Across America events are held at schools across the country to promote children's literacy. The first events were held on March 2, 1998. This year, the stars of the new animated film version of Dr. Seuss' the Lorax read to students in New York City. The cast also appeared in reading videos which were distributed to schools nation-wide by the NEA.