Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital invited community leaders to read to Pediatric patients on March 1, as part of the Read Across American Day celebration.

The event, typically celebrated on March 2, honors the birthday of Theodore Seuss Giesel, who wrote and illustrated more than 60 books under the pen name, “Dr. Seuss.” The event is designed to promote reading among children and young adults.

“Studies show that reading aloud to children helps develop language and listening skills, increases memory retention, creativity and helps improve a child’s attention span,” said Karen Hathorn, MSN, RN, NEBC, Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital administrator. “But we also know that even after a child learns to read on their own, they still benefit from someone reading aloud to them.”

Community leaders who participated in the March 1 event include:

  • Jerrod King – Alexandria Chief of Police
  • Dr. Haywood Joiner – Rapides Regional Medical Center board member and LSUA Allied Health Department chair/associate professor
  • Rachael Dauzat – River Oaks Arts Square Center executive director
  • Adaleigh Rowe – KALB weather anchor
  • Wesley Boone – KALB sports reporter

Our celebrity readers – some who appeared in costume – read to children from Dr. Seuss classics provided by RWCH, and many brought their own favorite Seuss books to share. Each child received a book, along with other Dr. Seuss inspired gifts.

“This as a wonderful opportunity to combine Dr. Seuss and be able to read to kids and interact with the community,” said Boone, whose favorite Seuss class is “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”

“I think it is important for these kids … they are in the hospital, they’ve been hurt, they’re sick, to make them smile, to make them laugh and give them a little joy,” said Chief King, who sported his police chief badge on his Cat in the Hat costume. “As a parent, I could feel how those parents were. It’s good to bring some smiles.”

To promote reading in the home – and all the benefits that come with reading – experts say parents should: make books accessible and available, set an example by reading, go to the library regularly and make reading fun.

“We are so grateful to our community for helping us make this day special for our pediatric patients,” Hathorn said. “Dr. Seuss has brought so much joy to generations of children – it’s an honor to continue the tradition!”

And, in the spirit of the day, Rowe, whose favorite Seuss book is “The Lorax,” offered her own Seuss-inspired verse:

“I love kids and I love to read, knowledge is power, ‘Yes, indeed!’ You’ll open your brain when you open a book. Kindness is everywhere … you just have to look.”