What do the Coast Guard and Dr. Seuss have in common?

BALTIMORE - Petty Officer Second Class Craig Bock, a member at Sector Baltimore, reads his favorite Dr. Seuss book, "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish" to a group of students at Marley Middle School during Read Across America Day, March 2, 2011. Bock, an avid reader, told the class about his love of reading and how it builds a strong foundation for the rest of your life. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Brazzell.BALTIMORE – Volunteers from Coast Guard Sector Baltimore postponed their normal duties to assist in a different sort of mission – supporting America’s youth during Read Across America Day, Wednesday.

To commemorate the 107th anniversary of Ted Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, seven volunteers met with classes from Marley Middle School to read to the students and encourage them to make reading a lifelong hobby.

Upon arrival, each volunteer was led to a classroom filled with awaiting students. After introducing themselves they began reading, turning pages through stories like, “Oh the Places You Will Go,” “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket!” and “The Cat in the Hat,” pausing to ask the children questions or point out their favorite part.

Readers were given their choice of Dr. Seuss books to read, many of which were familiar favorites during their own childhoods.

“Green Eggs and Ham was my favorite Dr. Seuss book as a kid,” said Chief Petty Officer Jeff Charlot, a ready for operations coordinator at Sector Baltimore. “It’s still my favorite.”

In addition to reading, the volunteers told stories of their own. Describing their Coast Guard jobs and the difference they make in the community. Children were given the opportunity to ask questions as well, asking things like why the pledge of allegiance is done every morning or what life is like for people doing dangerous jobs for their country.

“The students could not stop talking about their guest readers from the Coast Guard,” said Cathy Gistedt, a Media Specialist at Marley Middle School. “They were amazed that ‘a tough military man’ could love Dr. Seuss and enjoy reading his books as much as they did. They connected with many of your servicemen and women as they asked questions about their jobs, their travel, and their interests outside the military.”

“Every day we get to make a choice whether we choose to improve ourselves or not,” said Charlot. “The children that choose to do this make a conscience decision everyday to improve themselves whether by reading, doing their homework or taking advantage of other educational opportunities.”

Reading with children is just one of the many things Coast Guardsmen do when volunteering for their community.

“It’s important to take time and read with children,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Craig Bock, a member at Sector Baltimore. “It’s not just about reading to kids, it’s about being a role model to your family, your kids and to the people all around you.”

“Read Across America Day is important to the success of our students because reading is key to the success of everyone – child or adult,” said Gistedt. “We want the community informed of what our school is doing to educate and prepare the children of Anne Arundel County for the future. We also want our community partners to interact with students as frequently as possible to serve as role models. Middle school is such an important age. Our principal likes to say, ‘It is our last, best chance to reach kids.’”

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