Coleman Center celebrates Read Across America


On March 2, 1904, Theodor Geisel, one of America’s most influential animators and author of children’s books, was born.

The birthday of that author – better known to the world as Dr. Seuss – is honored around the county in schools like the Coleman Center for Families and Children, which last week celebrated Read Across America at First Baptist Church in Petal.

“Nationwide, there’s an annual emphasis on reading, specifically related to Dr. Seuss’ birthday,” center director Dede Smith said. “All of our area childcare centers are invited – our Pre-K boys and girls – so we had a huge turnout.

“In addition to that, our families – like stay-at-home moms and typically the families that participate in our activities at the Coleman Center – they all attend this. So it was lots of fun.”

The event began with Petal Mayor Hal Marx reading a proclamation declaring the day as Read Across America Day in the Friendly City. The kids even got a visit from The Cat in the Hat, portrayed by Debbie Kreiser, who serves as a parent educator for the center.

For the reading part of the day, Smith read to the students a story from the “Nut Family” series of books while the children acted the tales out along with her, and Petal Primary School assistant principal Ashley Harvey talked to the students about coming to the primary school next year.

“They were excited about learning to read, and (Harvey’s) methods were that they’re really already learning how to read,” Smith said. “So she was holding up signs, like the McDonald’s sign and that kind of thing, and she would ask (the kids) what it said.

“They were really able to get that idea that they really are learning to read. And she talked to them about being excited to come to the primary school, so that’s always a big hit for the primary school assistant principal to be there.” 

Penny Barr, another parent educator at the Center for Families and Children, then led the children in several different songs related to the “Nut Family” books.

“It was really fun, and the kids really enjoyed it,” Smith said. “We had a really good time.”