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Have a Seuss-tastic Day
March 1, 2012 - Betsy Bethel
Tomorrow, March 2 is a day to celebrate reading with Read Across America Day, as well as the birthday of the man who revolutionized the experiences of early readers, the late Dr. Seuss.
The two books by any author I remember most vividly from my early reading years are "Green Eggs and Ham" and "My Book About Me." The first, my mother told me, was my older brother's favorite book, so naturally I also adored it. The second was a book each little reader could personalize with such nitty-gritty details as where you live, what kind of house you live in, how many forks you own and how many steps it takes to get from your house to your mailbox. That book also belonged to my brother, but I changed all his answers to fit my reality at the time. Not a very charitable thing to do, but as the youngest child I was accustomed to making good use of hand-me-downs — and books were no exception! (Eventually, my mom bought me my own copy, I think when I was about 11. I still have both books.)
Seuss books fascinated, even titillated me, as a a youngster. I reveled in the absurdity of his characters. I loved going along for the ride as his words tumbled, rumbled and bumbled from one page to the next. He made reading not just "fun" — but an adventure.
When I was a junior in high school, he published "Oh, the Places You'll Go." My English teacher, Mrs. Lucinda Whitehead, a stern, prim, Southern woman with a heart of gold, read it to our class like we were kindergartners. I loved its down-to-earth realism in the midst of all the hoopla and celebration of a young person launching himself into the wide world. My favorite line: "With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street." Of course, we still sometimes end up on those streets, as Seuss points out — we may end up in a Slump or in frightening places where the Hakken-Kraks howl or in the Waiting Place or all alone. But Seuss's message is, essentially, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." To this day, it is my favorite Dr. Seuss book. I have purchased it for several high school graduates, and I often pick it to read to my 5-year-old daughter when she turns the choice over to me. (I notice she always make me turn the page quickly when the Hakken-Kraks howl. Can't say I blame her.)
Anyway, in honor of the inimitable Dr. Seuss, here are a few newsy items have come across my desk this week related to his birthday celebration.
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~ March 2, of course, is the strategically planned release date of the animated feature "The Lorax" in theaters across the nation. Dr. Seuss created the environmentally conscious Lorax in 1971, featuring the furry little guy who "speaks for the trees." No matter your political leanings, I believe we can all appreciate the message of the Lorax. After all, who in today's world rejoices when a tree is cut down? I think we can agree we need all the trees we can get. Many school groups are heading to theaters on both sides of the river today to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday by taking in the movie — my daughter's school among them.
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~ Oceanhouse Media, Inc. today announced that it will drop the price of "The Lorax" omBook (Oceanhouse Media digital book) to 99 cents and offer the Lorax Garden game for free from March 2-8 in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday and Read Across America Day. In addition, 25 Dr. Seuss omBooks will be on sale ranging in price from 99 cents to $2.99 on iOS and Android markets.
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~ The Brooke Jackman Foundation, named for a 23-year-old aspiring social worker killed in the 9/11 attacks, has compiled a list of the Top 5 Seuss books that are more than meets the eye, stories that also teach children how to handle challenging situations:
"The Lorax" – Teaches children the need to be environmentally conscious
"Oh, The Places You'll Go" – Teaches children how to remain positive when faced with adversity
"The Cat in the Hat" – Teaches children about responsibility and honesty
"I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!" – Teaches children that reading is a useful tool to acquire knowledge
"And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" – Teaches children to be imaginative
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~ And Sylvan Learning offers some Seuss-inspired reading strategies to help families encourage the love of learning in the their children:
Oh say can you say? — Read aloud with your children. Reading aloud is right up there with eating chocolate in terms of pleasures. In fact, we could argue it’s even better than chocolate: It’s never too early for it, and there’s no such thing as “too much.” I can lick 30 tigers today! — Wrangling your children’s schedules can feel like wrestling tigers. But making the time to read every day—even for just 10 to 15 minutes—is worth taming a tiger or two. It establishes reading as a regular, daily habit.
One book, two books, red books, blue books — From baseball cards to comic books, children have always been natural collectors. Encourage your children to create their own treasure trove of books. By encouraging the creation of a personal library, you invite your children to create a magical kingdom that’s right at their fingertips.
Why did the Cat in the Hat cross the road? — To get to the riddle book on the other side! Children enjoy riddles and jokes that rely on wordplay. Laughing together at clever jokes and riddles can make a Saturday trip to soccer or hockey practice more enjoyable and memorable. Next time you’re at the library or bookstore, bring home some giggles to read together.
Oh, the thinks you can think! — As anyone who has read a Dr. Seuss book knows, words can be fun. Turn vocabulary from a grind to a giggle by creating word games. Compile a word list, or ask your children's teacher for a word list, and make daily or weekly vocabulary games.
And to think that you saw that word on Mulberry Street — As you zip about town, learn new words on the road. Every trip, regardless of the distance, presents creative opportunities to introduce new words to your children. From bulletin boards to street signs, words are hanging out on every street corner, just waiting for you to drop by.
“Reading is one of life’s most important pleasures, as well as a vital part of education,” says Dr. Richard Bavaria, senior vice president for education outreach for Sylvan Learning. “By encouraging your children to pick up a book, you are helping them take the first step toward a lifelong love of reading, success and learning. Read Across America is a perfect time to make the commitment to read every day.”
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FINALLY, check out the Seuss-related activities going on at your local library this weekend. Visit the calendar pages on this website for more information.
Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!
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