Read Across America

Hello, Lovely Readers!

 Oh, the Places You’ll Go…or in our own personal twist: “Shoot for the Moon – you might land on the Space Station!” 

 “Read Across America” – a national reading campaign that began as a tribute to Dr. Seuss’ birthday – happens every year on March 2nd. It’s one of my favorite holidays, of course – and always makes me reflect upon the importance of literacy in my life. I’ve loved to read since I was a tot – and the books my parents read to me played a big part. I remember delightful trips to the local library, and my wonder and excitement at picking a pile of books to bring home. Dr. Seuss was a family favorite, and the very first book I read “all by myself” was Green Eggs and Ham. I still love that story, and its powerful message about being willing to try new things because you might find something you like.

That day, at the tender age of 4, I felt the power of the written word – and, although I didn’t realize it – I also took a giant step on my career path. Once I learned to read, writing wasn’t far behind – and I began to craft poems of my own. I poured out serious poems to help me understand my world and process my emotions, and silly jingles for party invitations and special occasions.

In 2012, Courtenay and I created our first picture book Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs to help kids realize they are always loved – even when they’re facing loss or separation. We learned all kinds of new things: crowdfunding, indie publishing, and above all, how to transform a dream into reality with the help of supportive community.  It seemed so natural to be using words and rhyme (and Courtenay Fletcher’s beautiful illustrations) to help children cope with really big issues – just as picture books had helped me as a child.

author reading

What happened next was even more magical. Our hopeful book found its way to LeVar Burton, the renowned children’s advocate and literacy champion (aka Mr. Reading Rainbow!), and he invited us to collaborate with him on a picture book to help families cope with trauma. We’re so proud of the incredible journey The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm has traveled since being published in 2014: appearing on The Today Show, being read aloud by Former First Lady Michelle Obama to military families, and comforting 1 million viewers during LeVar’s live Twitter reading to help families during the pandemic. The most fantastic trip of all was when the Rhino book (with its important message of healing and hope ) orbited all around the world…literally!...when it was sent to the International Space Station for Story Time from Space ! Courtenay and I were honored to visit NASA Cape Canaveral with our kids to celebrate the launch.

story time from space

Learning to read led to a career I love! I’m so grateful that I get to share my love of reading and wordplay with children all around the country as a teacher and visiting author. I’ve had many delightful Read Across America experiences at elementary schools, libraries and book fairs, and it always tickles me to put on my red-and-white striped hat and read Dr. Seuss books to kids. I also love to share my own books (that were definitely influenced by those infectious rollicking Seussian rhymes I absorbed as a child)! Last fall, I even traveled to France to present The Artist Who Loved Cats: The Inspiring Tale of Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen at Musée de Montmartre in Paris!

Dr. Seuss

Literacy is contagious! I always give credit to my parents and the wonderful teachers and librarians in my life who shared their love of books with me. Has a book ever changed your life? What books are you and the kids in your life reading today? How can you spread a love of reading to everyone you know?!

Susan Schaefer Bernardo,

Author and Co-Founder of Inner Flower Child Books


Did you know?

Many of Dr. Seuss’ books are written in a poetic meter known as “anapestic tetrameter”—it’s a rollicking way to write in verse! An anapest has three beats, the first two unstressed and the third stressed (da-da-DUM!).  “Tetrameter” means that four of these anapests are strung together to make a line of the verse. Anapestic tetrameter makes words move right along in a fun way – no wonder children love it so!



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