Getting wacky for Read Across America

Published 7:54 am Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Read Across America will be wacky this year in Middlesboro. Middlesboro Elementary wants folks that live on Cumberland Avenue to decorate their property from Feb. 28 until March 4.

This year for Read Across America, Middlesboro Elementary will be celebrating a little differently. Jessica Brown, family resource center coordinator, and Shannon Barnard, community literacy director IAL, have put together many different, fun activities for kids to enjoy all week.

Tuesday, March 1 will be an exciting day for students in first through fourth grade as they will be touring Cumberland Avenue and seeing all the fun, wacky decorations put up for Read Across America. The next day, March 2, the students will be writing about their favorite house they visited. The house that gets written about the most will receive a Shades gift card. “The one that stands out to our students the most, we thought it would be good and help encourage participation if we do a shades gift card for our winning family,” said Brown. As of now, there are 8 houses participating in the event. “We’ve all been so disconnected for a little while because of covid. This is one day we can still be connected.” They are hoping to make this an annual thing with more participation throughout the years.

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Thursday, March 3 will be when author Amy Simpson will be reading her very own book to some of the students. Simpson, director of public relations at SKCTC, published her first book, “Jeremy Plays the Blues,” in May 2021. This will be her first time reading her own book in front of children.

“I had always wanted to do a children’s book and I had this idea. Both of my children are autistic and so I thought, well God did not give me two autistic children by accident.”

The main character in Simpson’s book is nonverbal, but she doesn’t use the word autistic in her book.

“The message is…to play the blues is like you finding your groove and playing it,” she said.

Simpson loves watercolor, and former LMU student Jeannice Sanders illustrated her book.

“Jeannice just got it. I sent it to her and she just clicked with it,” Simpson added.

Some of Simpson’s sons’ artwork can be seen throughout the book.

“We’ve had authors in the past, but we’ve not had anybody since the pandemic,” said Barnard. “Having a local author come read can inspire students and allow them to realize they could become authors, too.”

The writing from the students will be published in the paper for the public to read.