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Campaign Kicks Off - Reading Across Riverbank
Read Across Riverbank is being observed all this month and, according to the poster advertising the 2012 event, "Picking up a book is like holding the world in your hands." The poster also pictures local school principals and other educational leaders with comments on the books that first inspired them to read.

"The first book that inspired me to become a voracious reader was Golding's novel Lord of the Flies," said Superintendent of Schools Ken Geisick.

"The first book that inspired me was the Autobiography of Malcolm X. I was captivated by the many transformations he experienced through his life," said Assistant Superintendent Daryl Camp.

"Nancy Drew Mystery Stories were my all time favorite," said Mayor Virginia Madueno, "Nancy Drew was smart and someone I looked up to."

"The first book that impressed me was Runaway Slave, the story of Harriet Tubman. But I did not read for many years using a variety of excuses. As an adult, I came across Master of the Game by Nelson DeMille," said Riverbank High Principal Christine Facella.

March is Reading Across America Month and in Riverbank, after school project leaders are putting together a program they call Reading Across Riverbank Event (RARE) with programs scheduled every Thursday or Friday at all the schools.

Devised by Angela Bailey-Gabrie and her team, RARE began on Friday with "a cultural reading event" at Riverbank Language Academy, California Avenue School and Mesa Verde School from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

At RLA, adult readers entertained the children with stories about Japan. Then they treated them to tea and rice served by an aide wearing a brightly patterned kimono and showing the white face paint of a Kabuki theatre entertainer. California Avenue School students, meanwhile, learned about Polynesian cultures, received colorful leis to wear and drank smoothies made with coconut milk.

On March 15, Riverbank Rotary Club members will distribute dictionaries at the three elementary schools. On the same day there will be an adult education event happening at California Avenue School at 8:30 a.m. and at RLA at 5:30 p.m.

On March 22, the public library at Santa Fe and Fifth streets will give instruction in creating Quichol yarn paintings and other arts and crafts.

On March 23, NASA astronaut and political candidate Jose Hernandez will make a speech relating to education, at 10 a.m. at the Riverbank High School Gym.

And on March 30, RARE will wrap it up with an event on cultural history at the Riverbank Teen Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

For the whole month there will be an ongoing Books in a Jar Challenge in which students record each book they read by slipping a piece of paper into a jar. Individual winners will be awarded backpacks and the winning school an ice cream party.

There were preliminary events, including a Dr. Seuss story time at the library on Feb. 25 and Target store volunteers visiting classrooms from Feb. 27 to March 2 to read to the children.

Then on March 1, juggler, comic and entertainer Owen Baker Flynn, also sponsored by Target, gave a popular show at the public library.

From March 1 through March 10, children visiting the library got to hear about The Cat in the Hat and to hunt down the hidden hat.

And on March 2, Dr. Seuss' Birthday was celebrated.

RARE is sponsored by the Riverbank Project ACTION (After School Together In Our Neighborhoods), Riverbank teen center, Target, Galaxy Theaters, City of Riverbank, Riverbank Library, Casa del Rio, Stanislaus County Office of Education, Step by Step, Riverbank Unified School District and Stanislaus Literacy Center, among other groups.