Thursday marked Dr. Seuss' birthday, and was filled with guest readers from across the county.

A dog or a cat or a fish — what pet to get was the question of the hour in one Westminster Elementary School classroom Thursday.

A first-grade class sat on a rainbow rug in the afternoon, excited as each page of Dr. Seuss' "What Pet Should I Get?" turned. The reader was Ben Kahn, a junior at McDaniel College, who egged the kids on as he read.

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Kahn asked the kids what pets they had, and which ones they thought the characters in the book should get. He commentated on their predicament of only getting to choose one, involving the first-graders in the character's plight of picking only one pet.

For the kids at Westminster Elementary, the day was filled with books, fun and costumes. Thursday marked Dr. Seuss' birthday, and students enjoyed appearances of guest readers from across the county.

Students and staff spent all week celebrating Read Across America, said Sarah Andrews, the reading specialist at Westminster Elementary. They had a door decorating contest, where teachers' classroom doors were decked out in Dr. Seuss themes, and Thursday's guest readers got to vote on their favorite, she said.

On Friday, Andrews said, students would get a day of reading and relaxation. Kids will have time for reading throughout the day, and are allowed to wear their pajamas and bring a stuffed animal to class, she added.

Kahn, also a safety on the McDaniel football team, was one of many who came to try to bring a love of reading to the kids. It wasn't his first time coming to a school to read to children — he used to do it in high school for the kids in his area growing up in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, he said.

So when his coach at McDaniel asked if anyone would want to read to Westminster Elementary kids, Kahn jumped at the chance.

"I always enjoyed it," said Kahn, one of more than a dozen McDaniel athletes to come to the school on Thursday. "It was always a cool experience."

The kids had a lot of energy, Kahn said. They're always excited — it's what he loves about interacting with children, he added.

And getting to share the love of reading with them is important, he said.

"Knowledge is power, at the end of the day," Kahn added.

Over in a second-grade class, the kids got a story — and a lesson about Winnie the Pooh. Maryland State Police Sgt. Laura Beck read the students "Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear," before answering questions about her job, and allowing the students to share stories of their own families in the armed forces or police force.

Beck said she'd never come in to read to kids before for Read Across America, but loved having the chance to do so.

"I love reading," she said. "It opens up new worlds."

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