Bright Spots showcase the work that Grade-Level Reading communities are doing to make progress on school readiness, school attendance and summer learning by 2016. Read more below or download the file.

The coastal Florida city of Vero Beach is shooting for the moon on March 3 by marking Read Across America Day with a family reading party featuring a book signing by Marc Brown, the writer and illustrator of the popular Arthur children’s books.

Across the country, the annual event will be celebrated in Grade-Level Reading communities and beyond. Sponsored by the National Education Association to promote reading, the day’s timing coincides with the birthday of Dr. Seuss, aka the late Theodor Seuss Geisel, born on March 2, 1904.

Vero Beach also is using the day to promote Indian River County’s Moonshot Moment, an early literacy campaign to have 90 percent of children reading on grade level by the end of third grade in 2018. Children will receive a paper Cat in the Hat red-and-white stovepipe hat and a Moonshot Moment wristband.

The first 250 children attending the event, held at a local high school, also will receive a free Arthur book and the first 300 people will join a free picnic. Dr. Seuss birthday cake will be served and 4-year-olds will get to meet their future teachers.

Last October in Vero Beach, 20 community sports coaches and over 200 student athletes launched the Moonshot Sports initiative. “It’s a good example of how we enlist the support of community organizations,” says Marie O’Brien, community outreach director for The Learning Alliance, a local nonprofit group promoting literacy and lead organization for Vero Beach’s GLR coalition. 

“Coaches ask their student athletes to take the pledge to read, exercise daily and have good school attendance. They ask to see report cards and reward student’s participation, regardless of the student’s grades. This shows students that their coach cares.”

A month later, the Moonshot Academy was launched in collaboration with a leading civic youth organization in Vero Beach’s highest-poverty African-American community. It includes an after-school program for 50 children and provides coaching and support to teachers as they practice new proven approaches to building students’ literacy skills. 

Next up is the Moonshot Sports “Read Across the Field” event on April 23 to mark World Book Day, so-designated by the United Nations agency UNESCO. Organizers hope to gather the largest group of readers ever together in the county at Vero Beach High School’s Citrus Bowl. Asked to bring a book to read during an aerial group photo shoot, they’ll be lined up for the photo in the shape of a giant Moonshot rocket and the word “Read.”

They will also be invited to “take the pledge” to support the literacy campaign, as part of the community’s effort to sign up 5,000 involved citizens. This, in turn, will contribute to the GLR Campaign’s goal to involve 100,000 citizens nationwide. “We have had tremendous community support but we hope to spread the Moonshot Moment message,” says O’Brien.

For more information on Read Across America, including activity ideas, visit www.nea.org/grants/886.htmTo learn more about the Moonshot Moment campaign, see www.moonshotmoment.org.

Nominate a Bright Spot in your community by emailing Betsy Rubiner at brubiner@gradelevelreading.net.

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