Every year on Dr. Seuss’s birthday the NEA (National Education Association) hosts Read Across America. The purpose of this day is to motivate children to read, since children who read more do better in school. Technically, yesterday was his birthday, but there is no school on Sunday’s here in the U.S., so it is being celebrated today.
I grew up on Dr. Seuss and his crazy and entertaining stories. I loved them then, and I love them now, even as I reread Mr. Brown can Moo, Can you? over and over again to my four year old. (Repetition makes a toddler’s heart grow fonder you know.)
Dr. Seuss was a pen name used by Theodore Seuss Geisel who was a pioneer in the genre of children’s literature. When he started writing there were very few books that children actually found entertaining. In fact, he wrote The Cat in the Hat (arguably his most famous book) precisely because a director at Houghton Mifflin challenged him to write a book for first graders. The director had given him a list of 250 words he deemed appropriate for first grade. He told Geisel to write a book children couldn’t put down using only 50 of them. From that was born Green Eggs and Ham, one of his most popular books. Seuss also birthed a character that has grown into a franchise, even having his own cartoon on PBS, voiced by Martin Short. This makes his birthday a perfect time to celebrate Read Across America.
Now this is a big deal in Elementary schools across the nation, and probably some public libraries as well. There are a ton of activities and resources for parents and teachers to use to participate in this day and motivate their young readers. If you have young ones at home I would like to encourage you to do something to celebrate this day. Sit and read a bit longer with your kids. Take turns reading Dr. Seuss out loud, or check out some of the links to resources and activities and pick one of those.
Think back to your childhood. Do you remember reading Dr. Seuss as a kid? What was the first Seuss book you enjoyed? Which book was your favorite? Share your thoughts and remembrances in the comments and let’s try and have a conversation about Dr. Seuss!
I don’t remember the first Dr. Seuss book I ever read, but I have two favorites. I absolutely love And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street which was actually his first book. A very close second is Green Eggs and Ham, of course. Who doesn’t just love that Sam I Am?
Note: There is also a great website devoted to Dr. Seuss and his wonderful world of characters. If you have some free time, check out Seussville.