|Written by Jeff Wood|
|Sunday, 11 March 2012 00:00|
“I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham!” This line is attributed to the main character in “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss, but the students at Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary School would probably beg to differ.
On March 2 they dined on the unusual breakfast food with their parents to start a day of events celebrating the beloved children’s author’s birthday and reading in general.
“This is a nationally celebrated day,” said Nancy Erickson, principal at Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary. “Schools across America will be celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday with Read Across America.”
The National Education Association created Read Across America Day in 1997 to promote reading among school-age children.
Now in its 15th year, Read Across America Day has been linked to Dr. Seuss’ birthday since its inception.
This year marks the 108th birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
As part of the celebration, students and staff alike wore large red-and-white-striped top hats in the style of one of Dr. Seuss’ most enduring characters, the Cat in the Hat.
Students also wore pajamas to school.
Erickson said the pajamas help the kids to feel like “cuddling up with a good book to read.”
After breakfast, parents followed their children into their classrooms.
In Stephanie Gutierrez’s first-grade English Language Development class, students colored and solved word puzzles in Seuss-themed workbooks while parents looked on and helped them.
“This is a perfect day because [Dr. Seuss] is a smart person who writes good stories for kids. He’s a genius,” said Iris Montoya, parent to one of the children in Gutierrez’s class.
Montoya said her children have several Dr. Seuss books at home.
Guest readers were also an important part of the festivities. Many of them were staff members at Dr. Daniel Bright.
“It gives [the staff] a chance to share reading, share books — something a lot of them don’t have a chance to do. Even our custodians read to them.”
Prominent guest readers included Mayor Diane Joens and Verde Valley Fire District Fire Chief Nazih Hazime.
In Gutierrez’s, students put on their festive hats and gathered in front of a wooden rocking chair, where a staff member read aloud from Dr. Seuss’ “Put Me in the Zoo.”
“The children enjoy [the books]. They love the characters. It’s good for general reading and rhyming,” Gutierrez said.
Dr. Seuss’ books are particularly useful for students to “hear rhyming words and how the language works,” she said.
Peggy Long, reading specialist at Dr. Daniel Bright, said they were “a springboard to reading.”
Anne Roberts, librarian at Dr. Daniel Bright, said Dr. Seuss’ books, written primarily between the 1950s and 1970s, haven’t lost their appeal to young readers.
She said the volume of Seuss books loaned out to students rivals the most popular reading series at the school, Skippyjon Jones.
“I checked out 26 of [Dr. Seuss’ books] yesterday afternoon and this morning, so they’re very popular,” Roberts said.
“The kids enjoy the silliness,” she said. The books “have a great tradition of challenging kids to read things that are a little more difficult.”
She said the nonsense words common in Seuss’ books teach children how to sound words out phonetically.
Many students are checking out Seuss books to read with their parents.
She said the stories were “timeless” and that they “had something magical that goes across the generations.”
Other activities at Dr. Daniel Bright included a Dr. Seuss trivia contest, during which school staff read questions to classes over the intercom system.
The first class to call into the office and correctly answer a question received prizes such as pencils, bookmarks and highlighters.
Over the next two Fridays, second-grade classes at Dr. Daniel Bright will also see the animated film “The Lorax,” based on a Dr. Seuss title by the same name.
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