WESTFIELD — Local schools joined in a national event on March 1 to celebrate the birthday of famed children’s author Dr. Seuss as part of Read Across America, which encourages students to read.

The author’s 120th birthday was March 2, but schools in Westfield celebrated a day early because it fell on a Saturday this year. Dr. Seuss is the pen name of Springfield native Theodor Seuss Geisel.

At Munger Hill Elementary School, guest readers from other Westfield schools, the district’s central office and the community visited classrooms to read aloud to students. The school librarian carefully chose texts to fit both this year’s Read Across America theme of diversity and Women’s History Month in March.

“We wanted to look beyond Dr. Seuss to find meaningful texts that introduce our students to other experiences, world views and historical figures that might not be as celebrated,” said Principal Alexandra Clines.

Among the selected texts were two about women who have Massachusetts ties: Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, and Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, a Springfield native and all-time leading scorer in Massachusetts state high school basketball history. Abdul-Qaadir had to walk away from a professional basketball career when she wasn’t allowed to play in her hijab.

Clines said the school has students and staff who celebrate Ramadan or wear a scarf or hijab.

“Reading books about these women not only inspires conversations about why those are important, but also encourages students to respect all cultures,” Clines said.

Emerson Trzepacz, a senior at Westfield Technical Academy, was one of nine WTA students who volunteered to read at the school.

“Instilling a love of reading at an early age is the key to learning for a child’s life. I enjoyed coming here to encourage them to read,” she said.

Lisa Stowe, marketing and communications manager for Westfield Gas & Electric, read “Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story” to fourth graders.

“Reading is such a critical skill. I’m happy to represent my company and feel very lucky to be part of it,” said Stowe, who was among 17 guest readers at the school.

Chris Tolpa, principal at Frankin Avenue Elementary School, said Dr. Suess’ birthday is another way to remind students about how much fun reading can be.

“What’s really important is continuously demonstrating to our children how important reading is to all of us,” she said. “Not just by telling children, but also by reading to them, letting them see us read and pointing out everyday things we do that require us to be readers.”

Tolpa said Read Across America brings adults, teenagers and children together to celebrate and take part in reading: “It’s also a way to model for our aspiring or beginning readers that reading is for everyone.”

Teenagers – specifically, 77 Westfield High School students, members of the National Honor Society – visited Westfield schools to read aloud to students. One of them was Abby Tremblay, a senior who read Dr. Seuss’ “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” to an audience of first graders at Frankin Avenue.

Two of the first graders, Lucy Allen and Christopher Forcier, both 6, said they enjoyed listening to Tremblay.

“Dr. Seuss books are some of my favorite books,” Lucy said. Christopher, also a Dr. Seuss fan, said one of his favorite books is the author’s “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Tremblay said it brought back fond memories of her time as an elementary student in Westfield. “I remember older kids coming into my classroom and reading to us. It helped excite and inspire me to read more,” she said.

At Westfield Intermediate School, WHS National Honor Society members Paul Lawary and Patrick Moore, both juniors, teamed up to read to fifth graders. Once students at WIS, they said it was great feeling to come back.

“This was a fun way to help reinforce the importance of reading and the opportunities it provides,” said Moore. Lawary said it was rewarding to read to students. “When older students read to my class, it helped me see the value of reading. I hope I could do the same for them.”

Two 10-year-olds in one class, Elianna Rodriquez and Ali Al-Jarah, said they enjoy reading books.

“It’s comforting and relaxing, I also like learning the new words in my books,” said Elianna. Ali said he likes reading chapter books: “The characters are fun and there are lots of plot twists that make me want to keep reading the books.”

The National Education Association launched Read Across America in 1998 as a day-long celebration of reading. It now has become a week- or month-long event at some schools.