“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,
To pick up a book and read with a child.
You’re never too busy, too cool, or too hot,
To pick up a book and share what you’ve got.”
– By Anita Merina
Twenty-one years ago, the National Education Association (NEA) chose March 2 as “Read Across America Day.” Why March 2? It’s the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as “Dr. Seuss.”
Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated more than 40 books for children, including such beloved classics as And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, Horton Hears a Who, The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and of course, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The purpose of the day is to encourage children to read. Throughout the United States on March 2, schools, libraries, and a variety of organizations will be hosting celebrations, speakers, and all kinds of activities to promote reading.
But according to experts, the people who have the greatest power to encourage reading are parents or other adults who take care of children. Seeing that a parent enjoys reading; being read to by a parent or other grown-up; reading favorite parts of a book aloud to a parent (or a pet!)—these activities can highlight for children the enjoyment that reading brings.
So choose a book to read with a child on this special day. Dr. Seuss’s books, with their simple, repetitive vocabulary (“One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish”) and clever rhymes (“At the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows and the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows”) are well suited for reading with young children.
Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover and Booked are great for the junior-high group. These novels are about 12-year-olds who love basketball and soccer, but they’re told in verse form. And any of the “Harry Potter” books will hold the interest of the entire family long after Read Across America Day has ended.
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