Last March 2, my kindergartener came home with a “The Cat in the Hat” type hat and requested green eggs and ham for dinner. Because he was my first child in Kindergarten, I did not realize our local elementary school celebrates Dr. Seuss’ birthday in this way each year. My son then told me of “someone important” reading to his class on television. After researching the Internet, I learned March 2 is Read Across America day. The purpose of the day is for every child to be reading in the company of a caring adult.
Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904, and published over 44 children’s books during his life. Most, if not all of these books contain rhyme. As children read the words in the book, they can anticipate the next word. Children are naturally attracted to rhyming words. The use of rhyme in Seuss’ books allows children to anticipate the word that follows. This anticipation and achievement allows the child to feel good about his or her abilities and allows them to desire continuing their literacy quest.
There is no doubt the achievement a child feels in beginning to be literate encourages their reading habits later in life. My Kindergarten-aged daughter is in the early stage of reading and becomes very excited when she understands a word. My first grade son is moving into literature focused more on science, history, and fiction. Many days we sit on the couch with one child on each side rummaging through various literacy materials. At first we tackle “The Cat in the Hat;” “Green Eggs and Ham;” and my favorite Seuss book, “Oh! The Places You’ll Go,” but have branched out into books without as many rhyming words.
My memories do not go far enough back to remember Dr. Seuss books as a child. By the time I had memories of reading, I saw Dr. Seuss books as for babies. I was 8 years old and addicted to “Little House on the Prairie” type books. In hindsight, I recognize my ability to read must have begun with Seuss because when I read the books to my children, I felt an eerie deja vu-type feeling. My reading of these books may have become so archaic by older childhood that I forgot reading them.
I introduced my son to reading before he was born. I learned the human fetus has a capacity to hear outside voices at seven months gestation, so I bought a walkman. I may have looked silly with headphones on my gigantic belly but my son enjoyed hearing “The Places You’ll Go” each day. Eight years after my pregnancy readings, I can continue to recite portions of that particular Dr. Seuss book.
Theodor Seuss Geisel would be proud Read Across America falls on his birthday. Sadly, he died seven years before the first Read Across America day was held in 1998, yet his legacy continues. Dr. Seuss once said, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Read Across America agrees with Seuss and strives to improve the ability of children to learn to read with parental involvement. Reading supplies both the acquisition of a larger knowledge base and the ability to travel anywhere you want with the simple use of imagination. Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel was the master of imagination and a literature genius.