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Congressman at Hunt Valley

Connolly reads to second-graders; reveals early dislike of pizza.

U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11) engages Springfield second-graders during "Read Across America Day" with his reading of Dr. Seuss’s "Green Eggs and Ham."

U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11) engages Springfield second-graders during "Read Across America Day" with his reading of Dr. Seuss’s "Green Eggs and Ham." Photo by Victoria Ross.

The pressure was intense, but in the end U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11) got rave reviews from nearly 75 Springfield second-graders on Friday, March 2.

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"We both liked that he made mistakes on purpose to make it funny," said Dalyrmple. "I think he was trying to tell us not to be afraid to try new things. But I was shocked he didn’t like pizza," said Cassidy. — From left, Lauren Dalrymple, 7 and Madeline Cassidy, 8

"He gets an A-plus-plus for being funny," said Madeline Cassidy, 8, who thought Connolly could be a "real" teacher – if that Congressional Representative job doesn’t work out.

"I liked that he made mistakes on purpose to make it funny, and that he taught us something too," said Lauren Dalyrymple, 7.

"The kids are quick to correct me if I get something wrong. It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s worth it if it gets students more interested in reading," Connolly said after reading the Dr. Seuss classic "Green Eggs and Ham" at Hunt Valley Elementary School on "Read Across America Day."

The day is also celebrated as Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and this is Connolly’s 18th year participating in "Read Across America."

"Reading is critically important to a child’s education," said Connolly. "Growing up I loved to read. I try my best to bring that same passion and enthusiasm for reading to today’s students." He delivered.

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"It was really, really fun, and I liked him reading the best. I thought mushrooms would taste horrible, but I like them now." — Gavin Crigger, 8

"Is this the seventh grade? I heard this was the smartest school in Fairfax County," Connolly said, winning over the students before reading the book.

"Green Eggs and Ham," first published in 1960, became the fourth-best selling English-language children's hardcover book of all time. The story, about a boy reluctant to try the bizarre meal of green eggs and ham, has a clear message for unadventurous children: Don't make up your mind about something without trying it.

Connolly, himself an avid reader, confessed that he didn’t like pizza when he was a child, eliciting gasps from the children, who then volunteered the foods they didn’t like "as children."

"He was so interactive, dynamic and funny," said teacher Karen McGuire. "I was a little worried about having a congressman here, but he was so personable, and he knew exactly how to hold their attention."

"Read Across America" is an annual reading program on Dr. Seuss’s birthday to raise awareness about the importance of reading in education.