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Ward Elementary Read-A-Thon's Pajama Party Draws 100 Children

Children's book author Christina Geist reads "Buddy's Bedtime Battery" to children at the William B. Ward Elementary School's recent read-a-thon pajama party in New Rochelle.
Children's book author Christina Geist reads "Buddy's Bedtime Battery" to children at the William B. Ward Elementary School's recent read-a-thon pajama party in New Rochelle. Photo Credit: Provided

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Dozens of children came in their PJs to the William B. Ward Elementary School in New Rochelle and none of them were cited for violating the dress code.

The approximately 100 kids, and their parents, were at the “pajama party” Tuesday evening as part of a monthlong read-a-thon, the school’s annual fundraiser.

Reading to the crowd was children’s book author Christina Geist, one of many writers and community members who have contributed their time to the effort.

Children are sponsored by their family members, friends and others.

Last year, the read-a-thon raked in $53,000, said its organizer, parent Melissa Panszi-Riebe.

The money is divvied up as grants among the school’s teachers and is used for books, equipment and other instructional necessities.

Geist read from her new picture book, “Buddy’s Bedtime Battery.”

The author’s husband, Willie Geist, is co-anchor of MSNBC's “Morning Joe” and also anchors “Sunday Today with Willie Geist.”

The read-a-thon’s goal is to have the children read independently, or to others, for a schoolwide total of 2 million minutes, Panszi-Riebe said.

Among the folks who have come to read to the kids are New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, beauty queen Lauren Morella, well-known local artist Charles Fazzino, a local toy shop owner, a police officer and a firefighter, Panszi-Riebe said.

Scheduled to appear during the read-a-thon’s last week are Artie Bennett, author of “Poopendous;” William Meyer, who wrote “The Secret of the Scarab Beetle" and Robin Barone, author of “Where’s Robin?”

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