- Special Sections
A national initiative will be commemorated locally on Friday, March 2, as Southeast Elementary School will take part in the NEA (National Education Association) Read Across America Day, a joint celebration of reading as well as the birthday of children's literature legend Dr. Seuss.
Incepted in May 1997, an NEA small reading task force created the idea with the basis of celebrating reading in the same excited manner of football and character building. Thus, the first Read Across America day took place on March 2, 1998, with the group choosing the date to honor Dr. Seuss' birthday.
Theodor "Ted" Seuss Geisel was born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. A 1924 graduate of Dartmouth College, Dr. Seuss began his career in 1927 with published cartoons and witty articles through the leading humor magazine at that time "Judge". He would go on to later be published in major magazines like Life, Vanity Fair, and Liberty.
In 1937, Dr. Seuss had his first children's book published, "And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street"--developed while on a holiday cruise and driven by the cadence from the ship's engine rhythm. During his service in World War II, he wrote documentaries and created his Oscar-winning cartoon, Gerald McBoing-Boing.
But following a May 1954 Life magazine report on children's illiteracy--because books at the time were boring, Dr. Seuss' publisher was inspired to change the literary world through his client. Given a list of words that were deemed important for children to learn, Dr. Seuss used 220 of them to pen the children's classic, The Cat in the Hat.
In all, Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated 44 children's books and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 along with three Academy Awards. Theodor Geisel passed away on September 24, 1991, but his impact lives on today through audiocassettes, videos, animated TV specials, and major motion pictures of his famed children's stories.
Read Across America hopes to motivate children toward reading not only for academic achievement but to encourage lifelong and successful reading. All across the nation on this day, school staff, family members, community leaders and others will develop fun reading activities and challenges for young readers.
However, Read Across America on March 2 is just the beginning. NEA also offers events like Teen Read Week, Drop Everything and Read Day, and International Literacy Day. This year the program will unveil their latest and "greener" project on April 22nd, Lorax Student Earth Day--another tie-in to a creation from Dr. Seuss.
Additionally, the NEA reading campaign also gives resources and activities to promote reading all year long, including these six tips for parents to help their child become a better reader.
Children as young as six weeks old should be introduced to books. Reading to them, starting a book collection and letting children see others read and write will encourage them to talk about their favorite books and even boost their imagination.
Secondly, ensure that children are surrounded with an environment conducive to reading. Along with a list provided by the NEA of classic children's books to have (nea.org/readacross), alphabet refrigerator magnets and writing materials will also assist.
Talking to your child will also improve their reading skills. Each engaging conversation with an interested adult allows them to pick up different vocabulary, world knowledge and language skills.
In addition, reading to a child can be a teaching opportunity. Help him learn about spaces, words, sentences, punctuation and other basic printing rules.
As children get older and gradually understand language, help them learn new words and their definitions and ask them to guess what will happen next in the story line. Also, assist children in breaking down and understanding the cast of characters in the story.
Finally, seek out a top-quality preschool for your children. Look for ample spacing, a wide curriculum, strong parent-teacher relationships, sharp teaching methods with teacher teamwork, established routines and exposure to grammar and language.