The first-ever Read Across America Day was held on March 2, 1998. Read about the events of that day, and explore the links to learn what's planned for this year's Read Across America Day. Included: Links to loads of Dr. Seuss fun.
Those were among the events held on the first ever Read Across America Day, March 2, 1998. Read Across America Day -- which also just happens to be Dr. Seuss's birthday -- is sponsored by the National Education Association, and NEA officials estimated that at least half a million educators and millions of children were part of that first celebration. They were joined by celebrities, athletes, governors, mayors, firefighters, politicians, judges, and others.
"We are calling for every child in every school in every community to be in the company of a book on Read Across America Day, in celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday," said Bob Chase, NEA president. The program, he added, "provides an excellent opportunity to work with parents and others in our communities to make a difference in the lives of our students."
On Read Across America Day, there will be celebrations in schools, libraries, and bookstores across America. But big celebrations aren't a necessary ingredient to a successful Read Across America, said Chase. The NEA has posted dozens of new ideas for fun activities that can be used in schools, libraries, bookstores, and at home.
"People of all ages love Dr. Seuss," said Chase. "He epitomizes a love of children and learning. Read Across America Day is truly one of the largest celebration of literacy this country has. Dr. Seuss would be proud."
In the spirit of Dr. Seuss and Read Across America Day, NEA staff member Anita Merina penned the following plea for participation:
It's never too cold, too wet or too hot To pick up a book And share what you've got. You're never too old, too wacky or wild To pick up a book And read to a child. In churches and chambers Let's gather around Let's pick up a book Let's pass it around There are children around you Children in need Of someone who'll hug Someone who'll read So join us March 3rd In your own special way And make this America's Read to Kids Day.
In Charlottesville, Virginia, Paula White's students at Murray Elementary School love Dr. Seuss. So does White!
"All children relate to Dr. Seuss," says White. "They love the language of his books, the zany characters, and the silly pictures."
Seuss is just one of many authors around whom White has created lessons for her primary-age students, but he's one of the kids' favorites. His themes are universal themes, she notes, including childhood, humanity, and ecology.
"I love to use books like The Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who to talk about setting up a sense of community in the classroom and treating people nicely," White says.
White often begins the school year with Dr. Seuss.
"In September, as a teacher meeting a new group of kids, I often start with Dr. Seuss because it allows even reluctant or less experienced readers to immediately look competent to their peers. It lets us share common experiences, and doing follow-up activities with his books really helps establish that sense of caring community that supports the learning that will occur the rest of the year."
White often uses And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street on the first day of school. (It was Seuss's first book for children!) She encourages children to talk about how they got to school that day. Then she asks them to draw a picture of something real or -- in Seuss's spirit! -- imaginary that they saw (or wished they could have seen) on the way to school. The pictures become the centerpiece of a "And To Think That I Saw It on the Way to School" hallway bulletin board. Then students create a class graph to show how they felt coming to school that day. The colored-in bars show how many kids were "excited," "nervous," "both," or "something else." The students take home a copy of the graph so they can talk with their parents about their first-day-of-school feelings. For White, these activities provide her with her first insight into her new students' personalities, skills, abilities to work with others.
When teaching first grade, White would read aloud Seuss's The Foot Book. Then students traced their feet on colored construction paper and cut them out. Students would classify the feet in many ways (left/right, color, size, etc.). Finally, the colorful feet were used to make a foot rainbow to hang in the room. White followed by reading the book How Big Is a Foot? Then each student used a foot-long strip of construction paper to measure and record the size of things around the classroom.
White's "Booktable" also has on it interesting facts about each of Seuss's books and a brief bibliography of teacher activity books and biographies related to Dr. Seuss. What a resource!
Perhaps the most extensive Seuss site on the Web is Welcome to Seussville. On Welcome to Seussville, teachers will find some fun activities to accompany a study of the "good doctor's" literary efforts. If you're looking for activities to accompany an exploration of Green Eggs and Ham, why not try the picture scramble, the recipe, the directions for creating egg-carton creatures, and more. Or if The Sneetches is your focus, checkout plans for a Sneetch Beach Party!
Games abound in Seussville. A handful of them require the Shockwave plug-in but, if you don't have Shockwave installed, don't worry! You'll find some printable games too. Looking for dot-to-dots or mazes? They're here. You can also try a tongue twister and attempt a matching game called Who Said That?
One site, An Index to Dr. Seuss Characters and Creatures, might lend itself to some teacher created activities. Here you'll find a listing of each of Seuss's books followed by a character list. Each character is cross-referenced to his books. You might use the list to create a matching exercise. For example invite students to match each book below with the character(s) from the book. (Answers are in parentheses.)
1. The Cat in the Hat (f,a)
2. The Foot Book (none)
3. And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street (b,d,j)
4. Fox in Socks (c,e,g,h)
5.Green Eggs and Ham (i)
a. Thing One
b. Sgt. Mulvaney
e. Slow Joe Crow
i. Sam I Am
Article by Gary Hopkins
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