Professionals from throughout the Lompoc community joined with students and staff at Fillmore Elementary School on Friday for a special celebration centered on reading.

The festivities were all part of the national Read Across America Day, which is held each year on the birthday of late children’s author Dr. Seuss, who would have turned 114 years old Friday. At Fillmore, the celebration included visits from 13 community members, who read to the students, as well as other literacy-based discussions and activities.

“They loved it,” Fillmore teacher Charlene Asmussen said of the students. “This is a great way for kids to get read to, and to get them excited about reading.”

The volunteers who visited Fillmore on Friday included Lompoc City Councilwoman Jenelle Osborne, Lompoc Unified School District board president Steve Straight, Lompoc Librarian Xochitl Rocha, two officers with the Lompoc Police Department, a California Highway Patrol officer, and five firefighters from the Lompoc Fire Department.

While Dr. Seuss books received a lot of the focus, Asmussen said she encouraged the volunteers to bring along other books that meant a lot to them as children.

Asmussen, who teaches second- and third-graders, noted that the children and adults seemed to enjoy the activities. Straight, for example, brought an interactive book that had one of Asmussen’s entire classes cracking up, she said.

“And you could tell he was having fun, too,” she said of Straight.

“But, that’s our goal as teachers — to get (students) excited to read, especially when they’re young, to build that passion for reading,” she added. “We’re hoping that later in life they have a love for it like we all do.”

Schools and libraries throughout Santa Barbara County, California and the U.S. held similar celebrations Friday.

“It was just a really fun day,” Asmussen said.

This report was prepared by Willis Jacobson. He can be reached at