La Cañada School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette

La Cañada School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette reads "Library Lion" to Mrs. Pruden's third grade class as part of the Dr. Seuss Read Across America at La Cañada Elementary on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / February 28, 2014)

City and school officials, as well as other local residents and business leaders turned out at La Cañada Elementary on Feb. 28 to participate in the annual Community Read-in, organized by the PTA.

More than 25 members of the community were scheduled to read to students from transitional kindergarten through the sixth grade. The readers included La Cañada Mayor Laura Olhasso, City Councilman Donald Voss, and Chris Morgan, a screenwriter and parent.

They were eager to read to the students from a variety of different books, and happy to enjoy a respite from the nearly constant downpour that deluged the foothills that day.

Linda Chun, in her first year organizing the event, was pleased with the turnout and participation. "This is my first year doing this. I was involved with the whole planning process. I thought it was great being able to meet the different members of the community, who are very excited to read to the class, and excited to come back and read. I think it's a great program. We get a lot of support from the school staff."

Readers were encouraged to bring their own books or select from an assortment of titles available to them in the school office. Ellen Multari, president of the La Cañada Unified School District Board of Governors, made her second appearance at the annual read-in on Friday. She carefully selected her book for her first classroom, ultimately choosing "Elsie's Bird" by Jane Yolen.

"I read through the different books, and most of them had heavy themes," Multari said. "I wanted to choose something that was expansive, from a different part of history and a different part of the country. I thought that the serious tone of the story was not overshadowing some of the other elements of the story."

Multari spoke on the importance of the annual event. "I think it gives the kids a sense that this is important to us as adults as well — that it's not just a kid thing, that this is something that we as adults put a lot of stock in and think highly of. I think it's good for them to see different members of the community come and participate in the classroom and see that we all are taking our role on as villagers, if you will, in terms of their student education. I think it's fun, it's a nice diversion, and a nice change of pace, for them as well as for me."

The event is held annually near the end of February to commemorate Dr. Seuss' birthday, which falls on March 2.

"The feedback from the kids is great: they're inquisitive and they are paying attention — it's something different than their teacher," Chun said. "They get to hear a guest teach them another way. There were several readers that weren't just reading from a book: there was an architect who showed his drawings, and a screenwriter who brought in his script to show the kids the process — something different than what they learn in school."

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MICHAEL BRUER is a freelance writer. He can be reached at michaelbruer7@gmail.com.

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