Hickam Airmen participate in Read Across America

Staff Sgt. Joe Hinojosa, Pacific Command NCO, reads "Why Do Dragons Love Tacos" to second-grade students at Nimitz Elementary School in Honolulu, Hawaii, March 10, 2014, as part of Read Across Nimitz. Hinojosa joined other Airmen and members of the local community to take part in the program aimed at motivating children to read more through innovative events and storytelling. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden)

03/11/14 12:00 AM

By Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden, 15th Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from JBPHH put their storytelling skills to work March 10 in celebration of Read Across Nimitz.

A nod to the 17th Annual Read Across America Day, which was held March 3, Read Across Nimitz is a localized program hosted by Nimitz Elementary School to help build awareness of the importance of reading. In addition to celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss, both programs focus on motivating children and teens to read more through innovative events and storytelling.

In honor of the occasion, more than 70 volunteers from the local community and JBPHH picked up their favorite story books and headed over to the school for story time.

For Read Across Nimitz, the students were treated to snacks and a full hour of storytelling by the volunteer readers. Some were dressed in Airman Battle Uniforms, others as Dr. Seuss characters.

"The response from the community far exceeded our expectations," said Bernice Saavedra, Nimitz Elementary School parent community network coordinator. "We had an overwhelmingly positive response from the parents and kids. We're trying to make reading a bigger part of the school experience."

School Librarian, Sheri Honnaka, said in the weeks leading up to the big event the teachers built excitement for the day by reading Dr. Seuss books to their classes, an act that soon drove students to the library in search of similar reads.

Honnaka said the event also encouraged parent involvement.

"The kids who had parents volunteering were excited to help them select books to read to their classmates," she said. "A lot of the students found more books they really enjoyed and wanted to take home to share with their family. I think it's really exciting to see the children fall in love with reading and be excited to learn."

Allison Pachasa, a parent volunteer, said she loves any opportunity to get involved with her son's classroom experience and saw Read Across Nimitz as a great way to encourage reading.

"Anything I can do to help promote reading is awesome," she said. "They are so focused on video games these days that it's hard to instill in them a love for reading, but I think it's fun to hear stories from different people. I think variety makes them understand reading can be fun."

Master Sgt. John Marquez, Binnicker Professional Military Education Center director of education and parent volunteer, said not only is it important to get children interested in reading, it's especially important to get them excited about it at an early age.

"I think it's important for adults to read to children both on and off campus," he said.

However, for Marquez the highlight of the event was simply witnessing the excitement.

"It was fun making the kids laugh and smile, that's what makes my day," he said.

After such a positive response from the parents and students, Saavedra said she hopes to see Read Across Nimitz become an annual event.



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