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Read Across America

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! Your books have had quite an impact these past 80 years. Your wonderfully whimsical words and drawings continue to delight and inspire the young and the young at heart. You encourage us to “think and wonder, wonder and think.” We’re better off when we do.
Your message is clear, “the more that you read, the more things you will know.”
So when the National Education Association wanted to create excitement about reading, they choose your birthday for an annual event called Read Across America. Designed to motivate kids to read more, the first celebration occurred on March 2, 1998. Now, all across America, schools hold assemblies and guests visit classrooms to read aloud to the students. I’ve even heard that some principals have dyed their hair green. I’m wondering if any cafeterias serve green eggs and ham. Now that would be a scream!

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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Read Across America

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Looking forward to Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2? Then grab your favorite Seuss book and Read Across America. This annual project of NEA, National Education Association, inspires reading by celebrating America’s most popular children’s book author and illustrator, Dr. Seuss.  NEA advocates for quality public schools for all children and stresses reading as essential to success in school and beyond.

NEA encourages reading aloud. On Read Across America Day, participating schools invite members of their community to read to a class. I am looking forward to my first experience. I get to choose the book I’ll read. Since Read Across America ties in with Dr. Seuss’s birthday, any one of his books would be an obvious choice. What Pet Should I Get?, published in 2015, more than 50 years after it was written, would likely add a new Dr. Seuss book to the children’s  favorite titles.

But then my list of beloved children’s books spans four decades. When our 40 year old son out grew children’s books, I couldn’t resist all the new ones and bought my favorites. Choosing one book will be challenging. Luckily Read Across America Day is an annual event.

Local organizations encourage members to volunteer to read at a school of their choosing. This year for the first time realtors organized Realtors Read Across Pasadena and are participating in Read Across America Day at elementary schools throughout the district.

We all know the importance of reading aloud to our children from birth. Once the child begins reading, keep the tradition alive. Taking turns preserves the tradition of reading aloud together and celebrates the accomplishments of the new reader without being overwhelming. With experience, the child will become more proficient and want to read more. 

Some families enjoy reading aloud. Something to keep in mind for Screen-Free Week. Not everyone will be thrilled, but inviting each family member to recommend a book, discussing recommendations non-judgmentally, and reaching consensus is in itself a valuable exercise. Everyone benefits from opportunities to articulate ideas, listen – really listen without interrupting, and find common ground.

Special occasions are ideal for reading aloud. We conclude Christmas dinner with a favorite children’s book. Whoever reads gets to choose the book. Most often that’s our son who delights in bringing just the right voice to Cajun Night Before Christmas.

While researching Read Across America, I learned about therapy dogs specially trained to listen while children read aloud. These nonjudgmental canines, known as Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.), help children improve their literacy skills and their self-esteem. 

In the absence of R.E.A.D, a pet or even a stuffed animal provides a nonjudgmental listener that makes reading aloud safe. We learn best when relaxed and free of criticism. The cause and effect is reading aloud improves literacy, and that boosts self-esteem.

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play