Connecting with kids, one book at a time

Maddi Anderson Managing Editor

In honor of Dr. Seuss and National Read Across America Day, members of Sigma Phi Epsilon will spend the week of March 3 through March 7 sharing the words of Dr. Seuss with the students of Medary Elementary School in Brookings. 

Sunday, Mar. 2 was National Read Across America Day, and as a way to celebrate, the members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity will read various Dr. Seuss books to students in classrooms including classes in the kindergarten, first and second grade levels. 

“Dr. Seuss was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon and we thought it was a good way to connect … we try to identify Sigma Phi Epsilon with volunteering,” said Tyler Rowland, the VP of Programming for Sigma Phi Epsilon. 

According to Rowland, they organized the reading event in a few weeks, starting by contacting the school and organizing time slots with the various teachers. About 12 students signed up to read to the Medary Elementary students. 

Rowland said the reading event was created to connect with the Brookings community. 

“We’re also a part of this town, sometimes people think it’s separated … but by supporting Brookings, we are also supporting SDSU and we can both grow from each other,” Rowland said. 

Pam Larson, a first grade teacher at Medary Elementary, is one of the classrooms participating in the Dr. Seuss week. Larson said the school has a variety of activities going on throughout the week including having the Sigma Phi Epsilon members come and read. Tuesday, March 4 was designated “silly hat day” and Wednesday, March 5 was chosen as Wacky Wednesday in honor of the Dr. Seuss book. 

“It’s good for the kids to see how adults love to read as well… it is a skill they will use for the rest of their life,” Larson said. She said all of the students expressed excitement about having others come in and read to them. 

“I think that they are role models for these kids, it shows them it’s also prevalent in the community and not just in school,” said second grade teacher Seth Sayler.

According to Sayler, having the Sigma Phi Epsilon members read in the classroom is beneficial for the students because it shows the students that reading can be cool and having a new face in the classroom sends the message more clearly. 

“I remember when I was a kid and it’s all about having those older kids coming to read to you. It’s all about giving back,” said Taylor Linder, a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. Linder said he signed up for as much time as he could, and that “it gives us a positive image; it connects us and really blends the two communities.”

According to Rowland, Sigma Phi Epsilon will definitely be holding the event again next year. After members have participated, Rowland says the feedback has been positive and everyone has been excited about reading to the students.

“It allows us to give back to the community that has done so much for us and plus it’s a lot of fun,” Linder said.