NEA’s Cat-a-Van Reading Tour hits Grand Rapids to promote reading

NEA, Delta Dental of Michigan sponsor special reading tour to bring books, grants to schools in need as part of 17th annual Read Across America Day celebrations

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Hundreds of local students got some Seuss-style reading inspiration when they were paid a special visit by the famous feline, the Cat in the Hat, as part on NEA’s Read Across America Cat-a-Van Reading Tour. Designed to get kids excited about reading and sponsored by the National Education Association and Delta Dental of Michigan, NEA’s Cat-a-Van Reading Tour hit the road on February 24 and will conclude on March 14.

“Happy children in Seuss hats, costumed mascots at play, books purchased by Delta, help to make a great day,”

said Paul Helder, president of the Grand Rapids Education Association. “State officials attending, and board members too, the district, the union, there’s so much we can do. Reading, attendance, good behavior and math, by working together, we’ll show kids the right path.”

Schools participating in the special read-in were selected based on the top performers at second and third grades in the “Superintendent’s Attendance Challenge.” The participating Grand Rapids public schools, ranked in descending order from first to 10th place, included Gerald R. Ford Middle School, Grand Rapids Montessori Public School, North Park Montessori Academy, Southwest Community Campus, Burton Elementary School, Buchanan Elementary School, C. A. Frost Environmental Science Academy, Sibley Elementary School, Shawmut Hills Elementary School and Congress Elementary School.

“The timing of the Cat-a-Van Reading Tour could not be better as we zero in on a comprehensive plan preschool through 3rd grade to increase reading proficiency,” said Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal. “It is also fitting that the students attending this event are doing so because they rank in the top 10 districtwide in the Attendance Challenge. Attendance, reading, and academic achievement go hand in hand. I want to thank the national, state and local Education Associations for making this opportunity available to our students.”

As part of NEA’s Cat-a-Van Reading Tour, more than 30,000 special stovepipe “reading” hats, books and other goodies will be distributed to students to keep them reading and brushing at home. More than $15,000 in grants will be distributed to the libraries and media centers of the public schools visited by NEA’s Cat-a-Van Reading Tour to help keep their libraries stocked with books and other reading inspiration, courtesy of Delta Dental of Michigan.

“Today was a great day for all the kids who were visited by the Cat-a-Van Reading Tour,” said Toby Hall, Senior Vice President and Chief Actuary, Delta Dental of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, who was on hand for the special read-in. “As a sponsor of this year’s Read Across America celebrations, Delta Dental of Michigan is pleased to be able to help educate kids about the importance of oral health and reading in a fun and exciting way.”

NEA’s Cat-a-Van Reading Tour will log more than 4,000 miles by traveling to 38 schools in more than 20 cities through eight states—visiting thousands of school children along the way. Stops along the Cat-a-Van reading route include Donna, Texas; Edinburgh, Texas, Laredo, Texas; San Antonio; Austin; Midwest City, Okla.; Shawnee, Okla.; Livonia, Mich.; Southfield, Mich.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Indianapolis; Reynoldsburg, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Akron, Ohio; Strongsville, Ohio; Columbia, S.C.; Augusta, Ga.; Dublin, Ga.; Macon, Ga.; the greater Atlanta area; and Jackson, Miss.

“Wherever students want to go, good reading skills can help make the journey easier and fun,” said NEA Executive Committee Member Joyce Powell. “Because NEA’s Read Across America helps make reading fun, students want to be in the company of good books—again and again.”

Founded by NEA, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., NEA’s Read Across America is designed to get kids excited about reading. More than 45 million children and adults nationwide are expected to participate this year.

About NEA

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at

About Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P.

The primary focus of the Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. is to protect the integrity of the Dr. Seuss books while expanding beyond books into ancillary areas. This effort is a strategic part of the overall mission to nurture and safeguard the relationship consumers have with Dr. Seuss characters. Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) said he never wanted to license his characters to anyone who would “round out the edges.” That is one of the guiding philosophies of Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Audrey S. Geisel, the widow of Dr. Seuss, heads Dr. Seuss Enterprises as CEO.

About Delta Dental of Michigan

Delta Dental of Michigan, with its affiliates in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee collectively are among the largest dental plan administrators in the nation. In 2012, the enterprise paid out nearly $3 billion for dental treatment to 11 million enrollees. Offices are located in Okemos and Farmington Hills, Mich. Sherwood and Little Rock, Ark.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Louisville, Ky.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.; Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio; and Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, Tenn. Delta Dental of Michigan has joined forces with NEA because American students miss 51 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems, and research shows that students who don’t read at grade level by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers. Through NEA’s three million educators, Delta Dental of Michigan is helping to deliver a very important message to students: “2 x 2 + 20 = good oral health and literacy habits.” The pledge asks children to brush for two minutes, two times per day, plus read for 20 minutes each day—for a daily total of 24 minutes, all focused on developing good oral health and reading skills. Find out more at


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