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Read Across America Celebrated in West Orange Elementary Schools

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Although the White House proclaimed National Read Across Day to be March 2, West Orange Elementary Schools celebrated the week of March 4 with special events and guest readers from the community.

English Language Arts Supervisor for grades K-5, Beatrice Hanratty, oversees and supports literacy educational activities and programs. Hanratty collaborates with teachers to ensure curriculum alignment, monitoring students' academic progress and providing professional development opportunities for educators. She researches current trends and data to inform the implementation of evidence-based practices and foster an environment of continuous improvement.

“This year, West Orange embraced the National Education Association's (NEA) theme of "Celebrate Diversity" as part of Read Across America. This theme, introduced by the NEA, encourages a broader celebration of diverse books, authors, and readers throughout the year under the initiative titled "Celebrate a Nation of Diverse Readers," Hanratty began.

“West Orange has not only embraced the NEA's theme of "Celebrate Diversity" but has also incorporated a focused book for Read Across West Orange this year. The selected book, "A Crown for Corina" by Laeken Zea Kemp, was read to students by multiple Library Media Specialists, and students participated in several school-wide activities. The value of Read Across America Week lies in its emphasis on the importance of reading in education and personal development. It encourages families, schools, and communities to unite to celebrate reading through various activities, events, and programs designed to foster a love for books and learning. By promoting literacy and encouraging reading, Read Across America Week helps to empower individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in school and beyond," she continued.

Students respond to Read Across America week enthusiastically, participating in activities like dressing up as book characters, sharing favorite books, engaging in reading challenges, fostering creativity, community involvement, and motivation for reading. In West Orange Elementary schools, that excitement was evident as the schools’ Reading Specialists worked hard to plan literacy events to help inspire a love for reading.

“These activities include dressing up for Spirit Week, having mystery readers visit, arranging buddy reading sessions, and inviting guest readers from the District and the community,” Hanratty explained.

“Various guests, such as West Orange Firefighters and West Orange Police, the NJIT Women's Soccer Team, and published authors, have made the experience even more special for students.”

In addition, Mayor and Educator Susan McCartney, Superintendent Hayden Moore, elected officials, district faculty, parents, and more, visited schools to read to classes.

“This collaboration shows a commitment to creating a diverse and engaging literary environment, showing that literacy extends beyond the classroom and involves different community members. The celebration aims to promote a passion for reading and foster a sense of community involvement and connection with various perspectives," Hanratty noted.

As part of the district’s goal to improve academic achievement, Hanratty addressed the efforts of the ELA program at large. In conclusion, she stated, 

“By instilling a love for reading at a young age, we're not just teaching literacy skills but opening doors to endless possibilities, nurturing creativity, critical thinking, and empathy. Reading impacts every aspect of ELA, from fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension to writing and communication skills, laying a solid foundation for lifelong learning success. Let’s keep turning those pages and watch our students' minds soar!”


Read Across America

Superintendent Hayden Moore

Read Across America

K-5 ELA Supervisor Beatrice Hanratty

Cynthia Cumming
March 12, 2024