MIA brought professionals from multiple sectors to celebrate reading at Danny J. Bakewell Sr. Primary Center and Marcus Garvey School.

(Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

On Thursday, March 2, youth celebrated Reading Across America Day and Dr. Seuss Day at schools around the nation. Mothers In Action (MIA) has brought the special day annually to local schools by encouraging the importance of literacy. MIA members, authors and professionals visited Danny J. Bakewell Sr., Primary Center and Marcus Garvey School to read to youth.

“We started in 2018 and have been doing it every year with the exception of 2021 and 2022, due to COVID19 pandemic,” said MIA President Tracy Mitchell.

“It warms my heart,” said Primary Center Principal Deidre McCoy about the annual event.

(Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to have guests come on campus, so just the idea that we can now welcome back guests on campus — students can see people that look like them, who are authors, who are excited about reading, it kind of gives them the motive [to see] reading is fun, reading is exciting.”

“It’s a joy every year,” said Linda Saunders, the director of Marcus Garvey for the past four decades.

“We’ve been doing this for at least 10 years with Tracy Mitchell from Mothers In Action. She brings a loving group of people in here every year to read and the children look forward to it.”

(Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

“It’s an exciting day for us, it really is, we love it.”

“It feels so great,” said local author Latrice Slaughter. “This is my third, maybe fourth time at [Danny J. Bakewell Sr., Primary Center] reading to the kids, having a good time.

“It’s always a pleasure to come out and be part of such a great event.”

(Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

“As a first-time author, it’s just been fun,” said local author Elizabeth Johnson.

“These kids are so excited and it’s really nice for them to meet a real author that they probably don’t get an opportunity to meet most of the time.

“So, this is a great opportunity for us too, to promote our books, so I love it.”

(Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

“I love it, I love kids,” said Kristina Smith with Disney Channel, “learning is crucial.”

Smith continued, “I taught them the three magic words today: readers make leaders and by the end of our One Fish, Two Fish Dr. Seuss read—they all said it unison, so it was perfect.”

Author Oliver Sims enjoyed engaging with the kids at the Bakewell Primary Center as well. He read a classic Dr. Seuss story and his book, “Introducing Ollie Tamale”, which he shared a little bit about.

(Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

“Ollie Tamale is really my childhood magic,” said Sims. “I always wanted to make stuff happen and just by him learning something he never had before—he thought he didn’t like tamales but, he found out, he did.”

Sims shared how felt reading the stories to the youth.

“It was amazing, they loved the story, I read ‘Cat in The Hat’ first, I forgot how long that story was,” said Sims, “and then they loved my book, ‘Introducing Ollie Tamale.’”

(Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

At Marcus Garvey School, the celebration of reading continued with more authors, professional and civic participation from sports and local sectors.

“It’s a pleasure to always be here to help out with Mothers In Action whether its reading, handing out backpacks, handing out food for Thanksgiving, so it’s a wonderful event,” said Kevin Smith, a retired LAPD officer active with the Oscar Joel Bryant Foundation,

“I’m always open and of course, I was doing this when I was on the job and now that I’m retired for five years, I’m still continuing to come out and support.”

(Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

“We’ve been doing this for the past four years with Mothers In Action and we really enjoy it,” said Lorraine Nealy with her husband, Michael. “And the reason we really enjoy it is because we’re grandparents.”

She continued, “This is just so enlightening for the kids, you see how excited they are when they come in.”

L.A. Sparks representatives Natalie White, Heather Smith and Darin Lee read to multiple classes. They shared how they enjoyed being a part of the program for the past five years.

(Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

“It feels awesome, it just reminds me of how precious and how beautiful that our young kids are,” “they’re so intelligent,” said White.

“They actually could’ve read us the books.”

“It was so fun, it was really enjoyable to read to the kids and we love coming out and doing this kind of work,” said Smith.

(Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

“It’s awesome,” said Lee. “We love doing this every year, speaking to the kids.”

“Each class that I read in, I stressed the importance to the kids that readers are leaders and promoted the Los Angeles Public Library for them to go get a library card!” said member of Mothers in Action and retired city employee, Jacquelyn McMahon.

“It was amazing reading to the kids,” said Rev. Oliver E. Buie of Abundant Living Family Fellowships. “They were positive, they were encouraging and very inspiring.”

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“Reading to the kids here at Garvey, it was an experience that I don’t get to experience often,” said Inglewood Unified School District Board Member Dr. Carliss McGhee. “To see so many African American children, in one location, that are extremely smart, great thinkers—it was just heart-warming today.

“I enjoy the diversity but, when the diversity is sometimes just not leveled, we have to go and find our children and today, I found my people.”

“I started doing Read Across America with Mothers In Action in 2018 to create an opportunity for Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. to visit the school that was named after him,” said Mitchell. “Mr. Bakewell was not able to attend the opening ceremony of the school in 2005 because he was traveling.”

(Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

She continued, “This year, we included Tiny Treasure Christian Academy Preschool as well.  On Thursday, we took three authors there to read their children’s books.

“My mentees read to the kids, did pledges, stepped and played and took pictures with them. The director was so enamored by it, she asked if the mentees could come every Friday, but we settled on once a month.”

National Read Across America Day was created by the National Education Association initiative to encourage reading. It has become a year-long program with special celebrations in March as National Reading Month. March 2 is also Dr. Seuss Day, which honors children’s author, Theodor Seuss Geisel and his renowned children’s books.