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365 days of celebration

02
March

Read Across America Day

Posted by Brittany

Read Across America DayTheodor Seuss Geisel was born 107 years ago today. His children’s books, most of which were penned under the name “Dr. Suess”, have been adored by parents and children alike for generations. One of my earliest memories involves crouching in front of the television watching the cartoon depiction of Green Eggs & Ham, and wondering “What the hell are green eggs?” And later, when I was a little older, Horton became one of my favorite book heroes — especially when he hatched that egg! Even as an adult, I very rarely make it through the Christmas season without stopping to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original narrated by Boris Karloff, of course).

But Dr. Seuss’s stories are more than just fun, imaginative drawings and clever rhymes. Though the author and artist did not explicitly set out to write didactic tales, saying that “kids can see a moral coming a mile off,” he did use tactics that were, in his own words, “subversive as hell,” to work his political views and character values into his stories. One of my favorite of these tales is The Sneetches, and I remember taking its message of equality and the pure absurdity of discrimination to heart when I was a little kid. And my old hero Horton — I was in awe of his enviable determination as he waited with infinite patience for the egg to hatch. Years after reading those stories I saw a local high school perform an amazingly creative and entertaining one-act play of The Lorax — a story that, in spite of its fantasy, makes our society’s materialism and disregard for the environment painfully real. Even the famous Grinch, with his too-small heart, offers a timely criticism about consumerism. And yet, while these can be heavy issues for young readers, Dr. Seuss always manages to deliver his message in that sneaky way he perfected, so you almost don’t realize you’ve walked away with a lesson when you shut your book.

Read Across America Day has been celebrated on Theodor Geisel’s birthday since 1997. The program, which is sponsored by the National Education Association, encourages every child to read on March 2nd, and provides parents, teachers, and caregivers with the resources they need to make reading a top priority every day of the year. Although Chris and I don’t have a little one to read to yet, we do have a Dr. Seuss anthology, Your Favorite Seuss: a Baker’s Dozen by the One and Only Dr. Seuss, that I purchased with that specific activity in mind.

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