CARLISLE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Carlisle School in Sullivan County celebrated Read Across America Day with a storyteller, activities, and snacks all centered around inspiring students to read.

Reading can take you anywhere. Thursday, March 2, 2023, is Read Across America Day. A day devoted to the value of literacy nationwide. To get students excited about reading, Susan Fowler, a storyteller artist brought books to life at the school.

“This is my 33rd year. I bring information alive. I use music and sign and story to share whatever the concept is. It might be the Ohio River or might be Lewis and Clark,” Fowler said.

Fowler uses volunteers from the audience to become characters from the stories she shares to better engage her audience.

“Today we told a story about a moose,” Fowler said. “I’m starting to read the story of the moose and I’m thinking ‘oh my gosh, a moose.’ And so, this young girl over here, she played the moose and then somebody played the spider and so all of the sudden the story comes alive! And that’s my joy, to bring the word off the page,” Fowler added.

Fifth-grade teacher, Amanda Earley explained that there are many ways to get kids excited about reading. From ‘first chapter Friday’ where teachers read the first chapter of a book on Fridays and then the students get to decide if they want to finish the book or not. She also mentioned visiting the local library where crafts and activities get kids excited to pick up a book.

“I always tell my kids, it’s not that you don’t like reading, it’s that you haven’t found a book you like,” Earley said.

In an Indiana Department of Education newsletter sent out at the start of this school year, Dr. Katie Jenner, Secretary of Education said that when it comes to reading, Indiana’s literacy rates have continued to fall over the last decade. She went on to say that our highest literacy rate was in the 2012-2013 school year when 91 percent of third graders passed the I-READ-3 exam.

The newsletter continued, saying that while Indiana has seen a slight increase in that passage rate, almost one in five children finish third grade unable to read.

Earley said that parents and caregivers can help their children become stronger readers by reading to them.

“Read to your kids. I think the more kids hear people read to them and hear the stories, the more they want to read to themselves,” Earley said. “Just getting involved and exposing them to books and having a positive attitude. The more we like it, the more they like it,” Earley added.

Storytellers like Susan and schools like Carlisle are working to bring out the reader in every child.

Organizers say knowledge is power. Inspiring children to read will help instill a lifetime love of reading and learning.

Even Dr. Seuss famously said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”