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Guest reader Petty Officer Savanna Roberts reads "Mr Brown Can Moo. Can You?" to a 2nd grade class at Shirley Lanham Elementary School. Servicemembers are helping the school celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss during a National Education Association's Read Across America campaign to teach children that reading is fun and important.

Guest reader Petty Officer Savanna Roberts reads "Mr Brown Can Moo. Can You?" to a 2nd grade class at Shirley Lanham Elementary School. Servicemembers are helping the school celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss during a National Education Association's Read Across America campaign to teach children that reading is fun and important. (Jim Schulz / S&S)

Guest reader Petty Officer Savanna Roberts reads "Mr Brown Can Moo. Can You?" to a 2nd grade class at Shirley Lanham Elementary School. Servicemembers are helping the school celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss during a National Education Association's Read Across America campaign to teach children that reading is fun and important.

Guest reader Petty Officer Savanna Roberts reads "Mr Brown Can Moo. Can You?" to a 2nd grade class at Shirley Lanham Elementary School. Servicemembers are helping the school celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss during a National Education Association's Read Across America campaign to teach children that reading is fun and important. (Jim Schulz / S&S)

In celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday, children at the Shirley Lanham Elementary School enjoy their teacher, Shannon Graves, reading Green Eggs & Ham.

In celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday, children at the Shirley Lanham Elementary School enjoy their teacher, Shannon Graves, reading Green Eggs & Ham. (Jim Schulz / S&S)

Staff Sgt. Monique Brown reads to first-graders Monday at Mannheim Elementary School.

Staff Sgt. Monique Brown reads to first-graders Monday at Mannheim Elementary School. (Rick Scavetta / S&S)

Mannheim Elementary School reading team,(from left) Barbara Moring, Laurel Martin, Libby Gross and Vicky Datz, spent the past month planning the Read Across America event, which is often tied in with the birthday of Dr. Seuss on March 2.

Mannheim Elementary School reading team,(from left) Barbara Moring, Laurel Martin, Libby Gross and Vicky Datz, spent the past month planning the Read Across America event, which is often tied in with the birthday of Dr. Seuss on March 2. (Rick Scavetta / S&S)

Yolanda Gifford, an Army and Air Force Exchange Service food service worker, serves second-grader Megan Morales a piece of birthday cake Monday at Aviano Elementary School.

Yolanda Gifford, an Army and Air Force Exchange Service food service worker, serves second-grader Megan Morales a piece of birthday cake Monday at Aviano Elementary School. (Kent Harris / S&S)

MANNHEIM, Germany — When Staff Sgt. Monique Brown pulled out the book “The Five Chinese Brothers,” first-grader Lee Wortham leaned forward to listen.

Lee, who proudly announced he was 6 going on 7, knew the book well.

“I used to have it,” he explained. “But my brother tore it up. I really liked that book.”

Lee was among thousands of students in U.S. schools across Europe taking part in Read Across America on Monday.

With the help of guest readers, students dove into classic children’s literature — including works by Dr. Seuss. The National Education Association’s annual project coincides with the March 2 birthday of the late Theodore Geisel — better known as Dr. Seuss — which this year fell on Sunday. In the States and at many military communities overseas, schools celebrated Monday.

As Brown, an optometry technician at Benjamin Franklin Village health center in Mannheim, flipped through the pages, the children popped their hands in the air with questions.

“It’s fun to read to children and watch their reactions,” Brown said.

“Little things like this are among the easiest things you can do to help children read.”

Brown skipped her lunch hour, hoping to read to her daughter Morgan’s third-grade class — which was at the cafeteria when she arrived at Mannheim Elementary School. So she read to a first-grade class instead.

More than 100 community volunteers turned out, said Barbara Moring, who helped organize the third, annual Mannheim event with a team of reading specialists and the local parent-teacher association.

A dozen of Brown’s colleagues from the health clinic, local Armed Forces Network broadcasters and 293rd Support Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Chris Miller were among the guest readers.

“Every year it gets better,” said Moring. “The community rallied around us even though this is a stressful time with the deployments.”

Many readers were parents like Staff Sgt. Luis Young, 47, a trucker with the 68th Transportation Company at Coleman Barracks. His unit was scheduled to deploy this past weekend.

“Since we didn’t leave, I’m here to spend some quality time with my son, Luis,” Young said. “Last year he had trouble reading. This year he’s improving.”

In Giessen, National Honor Society students from the high school read Dr. Seuss books to elementary school kids in the library and classroom.

“They let the children read to them as well,” said Martha Harville, the school librarian. “For the first-grader learning to read, it’s a big deal to show someone how well you can read.”

At Aviano Air Base in Italy, students got to have green eggs and ham as part of their lunches. It took about a half-cup of food coloring to give the eggs a distinctive greenish color.

That caused some kids to pause, but not second-grader J.D. Green. Since his classmates on either side weren’t into green eggs, he downed a couple of portions.

Most kids did eat them, however. “I do like green eggs and ham,” was a frequent quote heard from those standing in line waiting for their food from servers dressed like the Cat in the Hat.

And there were two large birthday cakes for dessert. Yolanda Gifford, a food service worker, said she spent three days making one of them.

Kids also engaged in a variety of activities in their classrooms with reading and Dr. Seuss predominant themes.

On Friday in Naples, Italy, pupils in Maribeth Hail’s first-grade class made their own green eggs and ham to the delight of some and the disgust of others.

“I didn’t try it. I knew I was going to spit it out,” said 6-year-old Blain Nelson said. Nelson did, however, like the cooking process. “I put the green food coloring in. The ham turned green.”

Other students, including 6-year-old Carolyn Walker, were quick to give the scrambled eggs and ham recipe a thumbs-up.

“I liked everything,” she said. “Ooh, and I got to check for shells.”

Events also took place in Kitzingen, Garmisch and Vilseck, all in Germany, according to school staff who wrote into the National Education Association’s Web site. On Wednesday afternoon, Brig. Gen. Erwin F. Lessel, the 86th Airlift Wing commander, is scheduled to read to the children at Ramstein Elementary, base officials said.

— Reporters Kent Harris and Leah Bower contributed to this report.

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