Happy (112th) Birthday Dr. Seuss! From the classics everyone knows and loves like The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch, to recently published books What Pet Should I Get?. Dr. Seuss is, in my opinion, the ultimate children’s book writer. His work is still so widely loved and read that it’s hard to believe he hasn’t been on this Earth for 25 years. Imagining childhood without the words of Dr. Seuss is a bit like imagining childhood without Disney characters or popsicles, and I’m forever grateful to the man otherwise known as Theodor Seuss Geisel for inspiring in me a lifetime love of reading, rhyme, and writing.
Yesterday, I got to celebrate the great rhymer and illustrator’s birthday as a guest reader at T. A. Brown Elementary School. T. A. Brown, along with over fifty other schools in the Central Texas area, is part of the community of schools served by BookSpring. BookSpring is an Austin non-profit that reaches over 40,000 kids with over 140,000 books each year and it has an amazing vision: A community where all children have the opportunity to become literate.
For over forty years, BookSpring has been the local facilitator for the national Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program, runs a huge Read-A-Thon every year, partners with MedicAid clinics to give “Prescriptions for Reading” (how cute is that?), and “creates transformative experiences with lifelong impact between adults and children through reading and reading aloud.” In 2015, they distributed over 50,000 “forever books” to kids who otherwise might not have the chance to own a book of their own. I’m lucky to be working with BookSpring all spring as my Junior League of Austin volunteer placement. I’d love to tell you all about BookSpring and/or Junior League, so please contact me if you’d like to learn more.
The school has a fabulous librarian who decorated the whole library in Seuss theme, organized a poster contest (I was a judge – it was a tough call!), and has dozens of guest readers coming in all week to read to her classes and hang with the kids. She was even dressed as a – very chic I might add – Cat in the Hat complete with tail!
The book of the day was And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, which I hadn’t read before, making it extra special and now I have a new favorite Dr. Seuss to add to my shelf! A group of excited third graders trooped into the library, giggling at the tall girl in an even taller Cat in the Hat-style hat (I’ll try to get a picture for y’all). As I read the book to them, there lots of insightful commentary on the ever-wilder adventures the main character had on the way home from school. Then we got to do Seuss-inspired activities at stations. We colored our own Lorax mustaches (a favorite), played Seussical games on Nook e-readers, dominated crossword puzzles, decorated bookmarks, and more.
Library was a favorite class of mine (Mrs. Dillard was the BEST!) in school and I loved seeing these kids so excited to be there. Even more exciting was listening to them tell me about what books they were reading – The Dork Diaries are big y’all – and their own favorite Dr. Seuss books. Dr. Seuss wanted kids of all ages to use their imaginations, read, and explore life, and I’d like to think he was smiling down at us yesterday, celebrating his life’s work by reading, coloring, and playing!