Which American writer has had the greatest impact on children’s literature? His birthday, March 2nd, is the date that is annually designated as Read Across America day. Yes, you’re right – it is Dr. Seuss!
As we began planning Dr. Seuss week at the BNI I realized how little I knew about Dr. Seuss and decided it was time to learn more. Theodore Geisel was born March 2nd in Springfield, MA and grew up in a prosperous extended family. It was during college that he discovered his love of designing books with pictures and words. He added the title Dr. before Seuss (his mother’s maiden name) to lend credibility to his writing and characters and in reaction to his father’s wish that his son would get a doctorate. He wrote two to three books a year almost without pause between 1957 and 1976. He wrote Green Eggs and Ham on a dare. His publisher bet him that he couldn’t write a book only using 50 different words … and he did, Green Eggs and Ham. His final book Oh, the Places You’ll Go was published in 1990.
Why has Dr. Seuss endured? Young children enjoy his imaginative characters, vivid illustrations and catchy rhymes. They can read Dr. Seuss books many times without tiring of the rhythms, plots or art. For older children the moral lessons in Dr. Seuss stories contribute to the learning experiences.
There has been a buzz in the school all week as we celebrate Dr. Seuss and Read Across America. Over 50 readers including our mayor, senator, county executive, business executives and friends have visited our school to read a Dr. Seuss book to our children. Why is this so important? We know that by the age of 3, children born into low-income families heard roughly 30 million fewer words than their affluent peers. Only 53% of children, ages 3 – 5, are read to daily by a family member. Yet, children who are read to frequently are also more likely to count to 20 or higher, write their own name and read or pretend to read. The Presidential Proclamation for Read Across America Day 2014 states, “literacy is the foundation for every child’s education. It opens doorways to opportunity, transports us across time and space, and binds family and friends closer together.” I so agree!
As this day comes to a close pick out your favorite Dr. Seuss book to read to your child. You can also check out some tips for reading out loud and how to inspire your students to become lifelong readers.
I’m going to reread Ryan’s favorite story Green Eggs and Ham – what about you?