Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 | 8 p.m.
A national tour meant to spread the joy of reading stopped by a Las Vegas elementary school Monday, bringing a donation of books and a special, extra-fuzzy guest from an upcoming feature film.
“How many of you know what a Lorax is?” Ruben Murillo, president of the local teachers union, asked a group of third-graders at Kit Carson Elementary School.
Hands shot up across the classroom, and looks of surprise spread to the children’s faces as in walked the titular orange-and-yellow character from the Dr. Seuss book.
While Murillo read the story to the students, the Lorax acted out the plot — which deals with the effects of destroying a forest — drawing laughter and smiles from the students.
The Lorax’s visit, and the $1,500 check he brought with him, was part of the National Education Association’s Read Across America Tour, which is visiting 10 schools across the country in the lead-up to Read Across America Day on Friday, the same day “The Lorax” movie will be released in theaters.
The tour is meant to promote the importance of reading and remind children and adults the joy of sharing a book together, said Anita Merina, a spokeswoman for the NEA.
“We created this day to galvanize the nation and to put the spotlight on reading,” she said. “We’re trying to find the key to kids' imaginations.”
While students at Kit Carson got an unexpected visit and a short story break in the middle of their day, the school’s library got a gift that will last much longer.
In addition to the $1,500 donation to buy new materials, the library also received an additional 300 new books, including a complete set of Dr. Seuss stories.
The school’s librarian, Yolanda Lowry, said the donation would help update the school’s collection.
“This is huge. … Our collection is getting dated,” she said.
Lowry says she keeps a “wish-list” of books the library would like to add and that the donation will help further students’ learning at the magnet school, which is home to an International Baccalaureate program.
“We need to have the books to maintain the rigor,” she said.
Getting kids interested in reading can be a challenge in the age of iPads and YouTube, Lowry said, but finding ways to make reading interactive and engaging, like a visit from a book character, can spark a child’s interest.
“It’s reminding them that reading isn’t a chore,” she said.
For third-grader Emilia Mason, the surprise visit from the Lorax reinforced her love of reading.
“It can take you on so many adventures,” she said.