GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- "Who likes stories?," asked Col. Kevin Jacobi, director of the Plans and Strategy Division at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

"Me!," roared more than 30 preschoolers in unison.

"I bought a very special book with me -- Pete the Cat: I love my shoes," he responded.

Jacobi was a guest reader at the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria -- Garmisch Community's National Read Across America Day Celebration March 2 at the Garmisch Community Library on Artillery Kaserne.

"Today was fantastic. For a small community like ours, it's important that we involve ourselves in the community and help as much as possible," said Jacobi, who is the father of two sons who are in college.

He said he and his wife read often to their sons during their childhood.
"If you expose your children early and often to reading, they will establish good reading habits by the time they get older," Jacobi said.

This is the second year that Marshall Center staff has participated in the Garmisch Community's celebration. Last year, the Marshall Center Director Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Keith Dayton was the guest reader.

"Colonel Jacobi really engaged the children today. It was a great story," said Ailien Patail, supervisory librarian of the UASG Bavaria-Garmisch Community, Family Morale and Welfare's Library. "We sincerely appreciate all the support we feel from the Marshall Center to the community, as we support the Marshall Center with our programs."

Cat in the Hat, and Thing 1 and Thing 2 surprised the children. There was a puppet show and even more reading at the celebration. The children even got to try "Green Eggs and Ham."

New Garmisch Community member, Larissa Lucena bought her two sons, four year-old Jemar and one-year-old Luis, to the celebration.

"They love story time," said Lucena, who remembers National Read Across America when she was in school. "It made reading fun for me so when I heard about the celebration today, I was like 'I remember this,' and I was excited about sharing this experience with them."

The National Education Association's National Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for children in every community in the United States to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of children's author Dr. Seuss. The first National Read Across America Day was held on March 2, 1998.

"Do you know what I like about Pete the Cat?," asked Jacobi, when he finished the book.

"Because he likes to sing?," answered five-year-old Mia.

"Yes, and he has a great attitude," replied Jacobi. "It's important to have a great attitude. Don't you think?"

"Yes!," the children replied.