Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Read Across America Day

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss.  The fun in your books spilled over into Read Across America Day.  At the library we provided Dr. Seuss book marks for kids to color; a Seuss is Loose story time; and a Dr. Seuss book display.  I wore my Dr. Seuss shirt, saved all year for this day, and my red-and-white stripped stove pipe hat.  Lorton Patch published my Read Across America Day guide for parents, reprinted below.  It was a good day.

A Parent's Guide to Read Across America Day

Grab a book! March 2 is Read Across America Day.

The National Education Association’s Read Across America Day is a reading motivation and awareness program “that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.”

Adults are encouraged to read aloud to a child on Read Across America Day. For that purpose, here are four books recommended by school librarians as great read-alouds.

Green Eggs and Ham is one of 46 children’s books written by Dr. Seuss. “Do you like green eggs and ham,” asks Sam-I-am? The patter and pacing of the rhyme help children recall the story and anticipate the words. This generates participatory reading. Best of all, when the unnamed character finally tries green eggs and ham, he likes them! The next time a child tells you they don’t like something -- you can remind them of green eggs and ham.

Rattletrap Car by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Jill Barton, is another participatory read. On a hot June day, Jake, Junie, Poppa and the baby head to lake. Getting there is quite an adventure. If the reader prepares ahead of time, the sounds of Poppa turning the key to start the car will repeat at each juncture, and listeners can be encouraged to add the last “pop!”

Poetry is a great read aloud for children, especially when introduced in small doses. Small Talk: A Book of Short Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins provides just that. Thirty-three short, simple poems picture common events in a child’s life. For example, Aileen Fisher provides “Growing Up”:

"When I grow up
(as everyone does)
what will become
of the Me I was?”

Even older children enjoy hearing stories. The unexpected and frightening events in Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg captivate kids. And just when they think they have it figured out, Daniel and Walter Budwing set out with a long, thin box. Yes, the book is better than the movie!

These are just four of hundreds of books your local librarian can recommend for you to read to your children on Read Across America Day or any day.

You'll also find suggestions in a new book by the editors of Horn Book Magazine, a premier guide to literature for children and young adults. A Family of Readers: The Book Lovers Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Literature by Roger Sutton and Martha V. Parravano, provides essays and book recommendations from a variety of authors and editors.

A Family of Readers is divided into four sections: Reading to Them; Reading With Them; Reading on Their Own; and Leaving Them Alone. It covers everything from picture books to teen fiction, poetry to graphic novels, all in an engaging, conversational tone.

According to the NEA, “Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers.” Read Across America Day is a perfect opportunity to model and motivate reading. For more information and resources, visit NEA’s Read Across America Day and Seussville, the official Dr. Seuss site.

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