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Read early. Read often. Read for the rest of your life.

Those were some of the take-away messages for parents who brought their kids to Chico’s version of the “Read Across America” extravaganza, held Saturday.

The message for kids was that reading is fun.

The main room at the Chico Area Recreation and Park District was busy with reading-related activities, including a “book walk.” Children walked in a circle until the music stopped. Winners could pick out a free book from the back of the room.

The event coincides with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March 2, and posters throughout the room had memorable Seuss sayings.

“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book,” one said.

Another poster declared: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Syrus Copeseeley, age 6, was well on his way to writing a book of his own.

The Butte County Teachers Association and Chico Unified Teachers Association had provided bundles of blank paper where children could put down words of their own.

Syrus’ book was titled “The root that never stopped growing.”

“If I write messy I can still read it,” Syrus said, as he read the first chapter aloud.

His mom, Kate, said she loved books when she was a child and reads to her two children every day.

Research shows that children who read early and keep reading do well in school, explained Michelle Kelley, the elementary school librarian for the Chico Unified School District.

Her job for the day was to guide people to the photo booth, where people could pose while wearing Seuss-related hats and masks.

People who are readers for life never want to stop learning, she said, as her tall Cat-in-the-Hat headgear bopped back and forth.

Publishers have done a good job learning what kids love to read, providing books for all reading levels, she said.

The goal of educators is to find books that children will “devour” to give them a push toward a lifetime of reading.

Parents can help by setting aside time every day for reading, Kelley said. This might include a quiet place with a reading lamp, perhaps making reading a family activity.

Local libraries also have great programs for children, including reading rewards programs and story time. See more details at

Leslie Phillips, a senior library clerk for CUSD, fully embraced the day by dressing like a Sneetch.

Attached to her head, and mostly covering her face, was an elaborately long yellow neck and a Sneetch head.

To complete her look, Phillps wore yellow pants, a yellow sweater and lemon-yellow sneakers.

The Sneetches are Dr. Seuss characters that teach that snobbery is no fun.

Phillips said her mother read to her when she was a child and she grew up to love books. It seemed natural to become a librarian, and apparently to dress like a Sneetch.

With her face barely visible through her costume, Phillips said she loves to find books she thinks a particular student will like.

“It’s exciting to watch them get excited. They’ll come back and tell me about the books they read.”

A good assortment of books were available at the back of the room, with each child allowed to choose one. Comic books were also among the mix.

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