Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2 is Dr. Seuss' 111th Birthday - Celebrate Read-Across-America Day

Monday, March 2, marks the 111th birthday for one of the most important men in American history - Theodore Geisel, aka, Dr. Seuss. Long before JK Rowling captivated a generation of young readers, a mild-mannered man with a knack for silly, yet inspired, rhymes ignited a love of reading for children as young as ... well for children. This great piece from William Porter of the Denver Post offers an engaging look at "100 Years of Dr. Seuss." (Yes, I know he was actually turning 110 when Porter wrote this - but no matter).

So many of us in the English world would love to develop a lifelong love of reading in children, and no one did more than the man who "introduced  millions of children to the joys of reading and the magic of wordplay."  It was the "spirit of playfulness" that permeates his work which made it so endearing. But it's so much more than that, especially when you "Consider the opening lines of The Cat in the Hat." 

Consider the opening lines to "The Cat in the Hat," the 1957 chronicle of a brother and sister's misadventure with a gangly, anthropomorphic feline sporting a red-and-white top hat:

The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.
I sat there with Sally,
We sat there we two.
And I said, "How I wish
We had something to do."

Mood, setting, conflict, ennui. Just like Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," except that something actually happens.

"Geisel's works also endure because of his gift for creating rhymes that are fun to read aloud and easy to remember, but are not cloying or irritating," Robinson said. "That's no small feat. I think it's this combination of playfulness and lyricism that makes Dr. Seuss' works stand the test of time."

It's a wonderful, endearing legacy.  This week, teachers across the country should honor the godfather of literacy by celebrating:

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