Oh, the Places We Went!

Celebrating Reading with AT&T

DSC01207DSC01337During the week of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, United Way and volunteers from AT&T distributed more than 10,000 books purchased with the help from AT&T’s foundation. Ten elementary schools (Quincy, Lowman Hill, Rossville, Tecumseh South, Auburn, Ross, Highland Park Central, Rochester, State Street and Meadows) held assemblies to celebrate reading.

Students from each school listened to Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! read by local celebrity readers. Celebrity readers included: Mary Brownback, Lynn Jenkins, Dr. Jerry Farley, Sheriff Herman Jones, Dr. Julie Ford, Eric McHenry, Chief James Brown, Mike Scott, Melissa Brunner and Mayor Larry Wolgast. Another 17 schools received a book for each student.

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins

Top: Washburn University President Dr. Jerry Farley accepted a Reading Celebration thank you from students at Highland Park Central. Middle: Mrs. Kimsey’s class at Meadows Elementary wanted a photo with United Way staff after getting their books. Bottom: Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins started the day off right by reading to the students at Rochester Elementary.

“This book project is a project of the AT&T Pioneer Kansas Chapter, said Jean Gonzalez, the chapter’s First Vice President. “The AT&T Kansas Chapter received a grant from the AT&T Foundation specifically for books that would go to students in Title I Schools. We chose United Way of Topeka because an AT&T Manager attended a United Way campaign meeting, and in talking with someone from United Way mentioned we had this overwhelming number of books to distribute.”

United Way of Greater Topeka focuses heavily on education initiatives and in 2015 was recognized as a Pacesetter for that work by the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Access to books is crucial for reading success, and many children from low-income families don’t have books of their own at home. AT&T’s donation is enough to provide one book for every student from Kindergarten through sixth grade at Shawnee County schools that are identified as Title I, or low-income, schools.

Having an exciting book at home makes it more likely that a child will spend time reading. “For younger students, just 20 minutes a day reading aloud with an adult or role model strengthens relationships, encourages listening and language skills, promotes attention and curiosity, and establishes a strong reading foundation, said United Way of Greater Topeka CEO Miriam Krehbiel.

Learn more about the importance of proficient reading by third grade and find out how you can help more students meet that milestone.