Have you made a recent trip to Target or Walmart and noticed there are a number of Dr. Seuss related items? Have you noticed that this seems to happen every year around the same time? Why is that? It’s because of the NEA (National Educational Association) Read Across America is an initiative on reading created by the NEA that began in 1997. One part of the project is National Read Across America Day, an observance in the United States held on the school day closest to March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss.
The Purpose of Read Across America
Motivating children to read is an essential factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.
March 2nd is Dr. Seuss Day! What does this mean? It means we look back over the years and reflect on all of his creations from And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, to Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (Which just happens to be my personal favorite by the great man himself) Thinking about all of the works he gave us, and how have they made an impact in the field of Children’s Literature?
I do not believe there is one person among us who would disagree with my saying Theodor Seuss Geisel a.k.a Dr. Seuss was a real genius! However, is it fair for us to say that his books contributed to society? I feel the answer is a big YES!
How many of us have ever read something that inspired us to bigger, and greater things? How many after reading Night by Elie Wiesel were not moved and affected by the account of a Jewish author was sent to Auschwitz at 15-years-old? His story of personal struggle, heartbreak, and passion. Or, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Giving us new meaning to the American dream, focusing on power and a friendship that will enrage you with jealousy (but in a good way).
Dr. Seuss showed respect for literature, poetry, and the essence of childhood that many other authors have failed or not come near enough to achieve. Through his works, he shows an endearment to the innocence of children. Showing us through his writings that childhood is the purest, most clever, and most important moment in one’s life.
Dr. Seuss helped to transform children’s literature into something that can be appreciated by more than children. His whimsical style and rhyming schemes were elements that came to be enjoyed by children, but over time, his works seem to acquire more meaning as the child reader grows up and becomes an adolescent than an adult. The work itself does not change, but the reader does, and looking at the same work over time, new levels of meaning emerge.
His stories not only entertain but teach us invaluable lessons. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Make the most of what you’ve got. In Yertle the Turtle, we see “feather envy,” and it’s a gentle reminder to be careful what you wish for and appreciate what you’ve got.
As mentioned earlier my favorite Seuss book is Oh, the Places you’ll go! As a child it was a fun read, it made me think about what I would do. But now as an adult, it has much deeper meaning to me. Life is a great balancing act with ups and downs, but it’s up to us to chose what road we will go down.
Dr. Seuss gives such wise advice:
Today is your day.
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street
And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.
Oh! The Places You’ll Go
You’ll be on your way up
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
As the rest of the poem goes on it becomes fascinating. What I love most about this poem is that how he points out, you’ll have times when you’re lonely, or scared about walking down the road you’ve chosen. You will want to turn back, but you’ll go on regardless.
That’s life, that’s all part of its rich tapestry. You’re not alone, and other people are walking their road right beside you. They too have these fears – am I good enough? Will I succeed? Can I do this? But we do, because…
You are off to great places.
Today is your day
Your mountain is waiting
So get on your way!
Dr. Seuss Activities
I have the privilege of spending an entire week with an elementary school to celebrate Read Across America. I will not only read and discuss Dr. Seuss stories with the children, we will also spend time enjoying some book related STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) related activities. Some of the things we have planned can even be enjoyed at home any day of the year!
I heart Crafty things showed how to make a blow art painting of Thing 1. This fun Dr. Seuss Craft is a perfect art activity and craft for Read Across America Day on March 2. Kids will have a blast blow painting the crazy blue hair on their Thing 1 or Thing 2. The completed art project would also make a darling display hung up on a bulletin board or classroom display.
The next activity I have planned involves apples. This apple stacking game will not only will teach cause and effect when you drop apples, but how high can you stack an apple? What are the various ways you can build with apples? Just be prepared for them to get bruised up. This game works well after reading Dr. Seuss’ book Ten Apples Up on Top.
These are just two of the prepared activities I have in store for the first-fifth graders I will be spending the week with. I cannot wait until the week long event is finished to share with all of you how things went. I will share photos and experiences in next weeks blog. In the meantime, here is a video for you to enjoy of my favorite story by the great Dr. Seuss. What are your favorite works by him? Do you have a reason why you enjoy that book? Please share your comment’s below.