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San Diego Padres Get Into the Game With NEA, Area Kids

by Staci Maiers

SAN DIEGO—Hundreds of local students visited PETCO Park Tuesday, but not for a Padres baseball game or batting practice. Instead, it was for something a little more page-turning: reading. 

Padres players Edgar Gonzalez and Kevin Kouzmanoff traded their baseball caps for volunteer hats to read the Seuss classic The Cat in the Hat. The special read-in at PETCO Park’s Park at the Park—sponsored by the National Education Association, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.D., and the San Diego Padres—is part of NEA’s Read Across America, an award winning literacy program designed to get kids reading.

In support of NEA’s Read Across America’s summer reading initiative, 36 public libraries in the greater San Diego area also are holding reading events this week to celebrate summer reading in Seuss style—including bilingual readings in Spanish, Chinese and other Asian languages. 

“When students keep reading on their schedules, they’ll score big when class is back in session,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “There’s no better way to underscore the fun of a good book than having some major leaguers up at bat hitting a home run for summer reading.”

Fighting the summer reading loss—sometimes referred to as the “summer setback” or the “fourth-grade reading slump” because of its crucial timing in a student’s academic career—proves to be a challenge for many students, especially for minority and low-income students. Research shows that the reading achievement of socioeconomically disadvantaged students typically declines an average of three months between June and September, while that of the typical middle-class student improves or remains the same. As a result, students can lose critical ground that continues to widen their achievement gaps.

The read-ins across the city are scheduled in conjunction with the NEA’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly. The NEA convention, scheduled for July 1–6 at the San Diego Convention Center, is expected to attract nearly 10,000 educators from around the country and pour an estimated $35 million into the local economy. 

Every year, an estimated 45 million—young and old—participate in NEA’s Read Across America, the nation’s largest reading celebration now in its 12th year. Past celebrity participants include First Lady Michelle Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, actors Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman, and Selena Gomez, football Giant Tiki Barber and tennis superstar Serena Williams.

NEA’s Read Across America also will make an encore performance at PETCO Park on July 3, when the San Diego Padres host the Los Angeles Dodgers. NEA President Van Roekel will throw out the first pitch, and the game’s first 10,000 lucky fans will receive the signature stovepipe red and white Seuss hats, courtesy of NEA, to celebrate NEA’s Night at the Ballpark. 

While adults enjoy all the action out on the field, children will have an opportunity to take their photo with the Cat in the Hat and his friends, Thing 1 and Thing 2, at a special Seuss-style kiosk.  NEA’s Read Across America will have summer reading tips for parents, photo frames and lots of Seuss-tastic giveaways to encourage youngsters to read over the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.


Get more information on NEA’s Read Across America and details on local events happening across San Diego this week.

Click to view NBC's coverage of the NEA Read-In at Petco Park.