Thirteen NFL seasons, seven-time NFL Pro Bowler, Pro Bowl MVP in 1993, Pro Football Hall of Fame's All-Time Team in 2000, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, Bills Wall of Fame in 2007 and the Bills 50th Season All-Time Team in 2009, Steve Tasker was arguably the greatest special teams player in the history of the NFL, and his football resume is impressive. However, for students at County Parkway Elementary School on March 2nd, Tasker was even more inspirational as a guest reader celebrating the 2011 National Education Association's (NEA) Read Across America Day.
"I try to get kids interested in reading by letting them know that there are adults, other than their parents, that think reading is a good idea," said Tasker. "Reading can be fun experience in a group setting and can be just as much fun by themselves."
NEA's Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss.
Tasker, #89 who played with the Bills from 1986-1997, visited the school to read to both first and third grade students. Tasker read a Dr. Seuss book titled "Horton Hatches the Egg," and he engaged the students asking them questions about the book and sharing his thoughts about the story.
"Today was great. It went really well and it's always enjoyable to be around such great kids," said Tasker. "Reading to them was a pleasure and they seem to really enjoy the Dr. Seuss books."
Though Tasker read "Horton Hatches the Egg," he confessed that he had another favorite.
"My favorite Dr. Seuss book I think is, "Oh the Places You Will Go," said Tasker. "It's empowering and inspirational. I think it is the best one he wrote!"
In cities and towns across the nation, teachers, teenagers, librarians, politicians, actors, athletes, parents, grandparents, and others develop NEA's Read Across America activities to bring reading excitement to children of all ages.
"Reading can change lives," said Tasker. "Just being able to read information opens up doors that people never thought possible. This gives students the opportunity to be able to understand every bit of information available. Everything is done by reading these days. If a person wants to make their life better, reading is a key way to do so, not only as kids but as they grow into adults as well."
In May 1997, a small reading task force at NEA came up with a big idea. "Let's create a day to celebrate reading," the group decided. "We hold pep rallies to get kids excited about football. We assemble to remember that Character Counts. Why don't we do something to get kids excited about reading? We'll call it 'NEA's Read Across America' and we'll celebrate it on Dr. Seuss's birthday." And so was born on March 2, 1998, the largest celebration of reading this country has ever seen.
According to the NEA, motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.
For more information regarding the National Education Association and Read Across America Day, visit www.nea.org.