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Lorax coming to Washington County schools

XDr Seuss lorax bookBy MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

[email protected]

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not,” reads the children’s book “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss.

The story, about a Dr. Seuss character who seems to be the only one concerned about the cutting down of the Truffula Trees, has projected the importance of protecting the environment for over 40 years. And now 582 copies will go home with all second grade students in the Washington County School System as part of Project Lorax.

Project Lorax’s mission is to encourage young readers, to celebrate Earth Day (on April 22) and to highlight the importance of environmental stewardship. The organization originally served the the Johnson City School System and now reaches to Washington County’s elementary Schools as well as Happy Valley Elementary in the Carter County School District. And to distribute the books, a storyteller will read the story at each school along with the Lorax himself.

Not only does the story provide a message about the environment, but this project could also be helpful in sparking an interest in reading in the county’s second graders. Washington County Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton said the district’s goal of lifting the third grade reading proficiency level from 55 percent to 75 percent is also on her radar in working with similar projects.

“(Increasing reading rates,) that’s definitely in our minds,” Halliburton said. “I think the more books you get into the homes of families that maybe can’t afford a huge library of children’s books, the better. Any organization that wants to donate books to our schools, we will take them.”

In improving the reading rate, projects such as Project Lorax can lend a helping hand, but the director also said the community could donate in a similar way—if only they take a second look at the books their children have outgrown.

“I remember when my children grew out of their primary storybooks, there were a few I held onto just for memory’s sake, but for the most part, what I did was I boxed them up and I took them down the street to my local elementary school, which happened to be the school that I was serving in as principal,” Halliburton said, laughing. “But what I think happens many times is that our community doesn’t think about the schools.

“So don’t box up these books and take them to the Goodwill. That’s great, but take them to a school, and we can divvy them out for free for our boys and girls or we can use them for our classroom library sets for teachers.”

To view the Project Lorax distribution schedule and to volunteer go to http://www.projectlorax.org/events. To contribute to the project visit https://secure.campaigncontributions.net/51830/Contribute-to-Project-Lorax.