Bestowed to more than 1500 children, Crunch – written and illustrated by Carolina Rabei – was this year’s chosen book for the 12th Annual Read Across Siskiyou.

On a groundbreaking day for Siskiyou County Nov. 13, 59 guest readers read the book “Crunch,” at 72 different reading events to champion the cause of the importance of early literacy and investments of quality time with young children.

Bestowed to more than 1500 children, Crunch – written and illustrated by Carolina Rabei – was this year’s chosen book for the 12th Annual Read Across Siskiyou. First 5 Siskiyou Children and Families Commission’s goal is to harness a momentum of awareness on the importance of daily reading and how early literacy is essential for healthy social- emotional child development, and school and life success.

Readers included distinguished guests from the breadth of Siskiyou County such as Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors Brandon Criss and Ray Haupt, County Superintendent of Schools/First 5 Siskiyou Commissioner Kermith Walters, Siskiyou County Librarian/First 5 Siskiyou Commissioner Michael Perry, and County Deputy Council for Siskiyou County Dana Barton. Representatives from city councils included Yreka Mayor Joan Smith Freeman, Montague Mayor Tiffany Lorenzini, Weed Mayor Ken Palfini, Weed Mayor Pro-Tem Sue Tavalero and Dunsmuir Council Members Peter Arth and Bruce Deutsch.

Recognizing the connection of early literacy and successful adulthood, members of our law enforcement community, including Sherriff Captain Karl Houtman, Etna Police chief Josh Short, and Etna Police Officer Clint Witchurch, were also among the day’s readers. All of the reading events took place in locales such as preschools, play groups, kindergarten classes, family child care centers, libraries and community socials.

Happy Camp Elementary First Grade Teacher Glen Rickel as well as retired teachers Sylvia Parry, Georgia Conroy and Linda Knight also took their turn in orating Crunch. Ft. Jones Elementary Principal Joy Isbell, retired Big Springs Elementary School Principal Tag Pimentel, Seiad Elementary Board member Deberah Ayres, and First 5 Siskiyou Mentor/Teacher/Trainers Chris Brown, Cathy Scott and Carol Wheeler were also storytellers on this day.

Demonstrating their commitment to early literacy in the heart of their communities, librarians and library staff brought the sweet tale of friendship to life to the forefront for young audiences. The list includes Dunsmuir Librarian Karen O’Quinn and staff member John Hite, Mount Shasta Librarian Courtney Laverty and songster/storyteller Tim Sims, as well as Etna and Scott Valley Library Manager Celeste McFall.

Partnering with First 5 Siskiyou, the local point of contact for book distribution and community organization were the First 5 funded Family and community Resource centers. Some of the centers’ staff such as the Regional Director for South Siskiyou County Siskiyou Community Resource Collaborative Steve Bryan, Family and Community Resource Center of Weed Director Andrea Herr, Hub Communities Family Resource Center’s Director Katy Popa as well as Tia Tiraterra from Happy Camp Community Resource Center also took their turn in reading.

Other notable raconteurs included Youth Empowerment Siskiyou’s Executive Director Sara Springfield and Program Director Lori Keyser-Boswell (formerly CASA), Siskiyou Union High School District Governance Team Board Member Lori Harch, Delta Kappa Gamma/Dolly Parton Imagination Library Volunteer Dr. Glee Brooks, Linda Chitwood, Patty Brown, Diane Pomeroy, and Dr. John Harch. Scott Valley Unified School District student guest readers Elizabeth Harris and Peter Harris (aka Captain Super Bulldog), the Tulelake Interact Club Students, McCloud High School students Kathleen Hunt and Cara Major, and other caring community members also fueled the trajectory through this early literacy activity as well as other volunteer readers. Those who wanted to read this year but had schedule conflicts will have the opportunity to read next year for RAS. Typically scheduled on the second Wednesday of November, the 2020 date is moved up one week to Nov. 4 due the Veteran’s Day.

Prior to this auspicious day in the county, Siskiyou County Commissioners, town councils and service districts, county-wide, signed and officially adopted the Read Across Siskiyou Proclamation which endorses “daily reading, singing and playing with children as a critical foundation for healthy development and life-long success.”

First 5 Siskiyou’s Executive Director, Karen Pautz shares her appreciation on behalf the Commission and Staff, “Thank you to all who participated in the schools, community programs, Commissioners, and guest readers. We had an overwhelming response this year.”