Tonight, teachers and moms across the country are making a last minute stop at the store to pick up green food coloring. Perhaps they are buying it to dye those famous “green eggs” for breakfast, or maybe they are putting it with some cornstarch and water to make Oobleck. Regardless of what the food coloring is for, it can only mean one thing; it’s time for Read Across America!
I used to be one of those teachers, and for many years this night was about final preparations for all the fun Dr. Seuss activities for our celebration. (Tomorrow, when you are there for the school event, thank the teachers because they are sacrificing family time and sleep for your kiddos tonight, and many other nights). I love these celebrations, but as I reflect on them, I realize that sometimes, with Read Across America, we miss the point. This is a celebration about Dr. Seuss, but really, it should be about what Dr. Seuss represents.
Dr. Seuss represents reading, and the importance of making fun books accessible to kids at all reading levels. He wrote The Cat in the Hat because his publisher asked him to write a book kids couldn’t put down. Dr. Seuss was proud of the book because it may have helped bring the “death” of the Dick and Jane Primers used to teach reading. He is best known for his books for young readers, but his books for older readers are about big ideas. The Sneetches is about diversity, Yertle the Turtle is about tyranny, and The Lorax is about taking care of the environment. He wanted kids to be excited about reading, and he was striving for a more literate and educated society.
So, enjoy your green eggs and ham and play with your oobleck, but I encourage you to focus on the reading that Dr. Seuss felt was so important.
Here are a few suggestions for immersing yourself and your kids in some extra literacy to celebrate this great author:
- Go to the library. Yes, the library! Have you been there lately? It’s a magical place full of…books! My favorite day when I taught kindergarten was taking kids to the school library for the first time. They were AMAZED. Reading on technology is not the same. Your home library is not the same. Go to the public library.
- Go to a bookstore. The bookstore is lot more engaging for young readers than Amazon. Give your kids a budget and let them pick out their own book to take home. Or, if you think you already have too many books (I don’t think this is a thing!), have them choose a book to donate to their classroom library or an organization that serves children. Also, a lot of bookstores hold Read Across America events atround this time of year.
- Attend a story time. These are often held at bookstores and libraries, but they can be found other places as well. Do a little research and take your kids to story time.
- Read a book as a family. Yes, everyone in the house reading the same book. I know a family that read the entire Harry Potter series aloud. It took them years, and they loved it. Those girls are in their 20s now, and they still talk about it. Make an effort to read a book together nightly, no matter what age your kids are.
- Have a movie night where you choose a movie that is based on a book. A picture book would work well for this to keep this activity manageable in terms of time. Have everyone read the book (as a family or individually), and then watch the movie. After watching, talk about the similarities and differences and which you liked better.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~Dr. Seuss
How will your family follow the advice of Dr. Seuss this week?