The celebration of Read Across America on Dr. Seuss’s birthday is just a week away, and all over the country—and across the Internet—folks are being reminded, “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild to pick up a book and read with a child.” Every year millions and millions of readers are inspired to don the hat of Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat and share books with kids in schools, hospitals, homes, homeless shelters, libraries, museums and more.

 

It was March 2, 1998, when the National Education Association (NEA) first called for every child in every community across the country to celebrate reading on Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Kids reading across our great nation in a Dr. Seuss birthday celebration needed an anthem worthy of the lively rhymes and rollicking rhythms of the beloved author. Something Seussational like:

 

You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,

To pick up a book and read with a child.

 

You’ve probably seen this quote attributed to Dr. Seuss. On Pinterest. Or Facebook. Or on a t-shirt.

th-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Seuss never said, never wrote those words.

 

The lines comes not from Dr. Seuss, but from a talented NEA staff member who swiftly composed this poetic piece during a meeting:

 

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.

In schools and communities,

Let’s gather around,

Let’s pick up a book,

Let’s pass it around.

There are kids all around you,

Kids who will need

Someone to hug,

Someone to read.

Come join us March 2nd

Your own special way

And make this America’s

Read to Kids Day.

 

The poem is published in full on the NEA website, but the first two lines have been appropriated by—for the most part—well-intentioned folks who want to use a Dr. Seuss image and clever quote to spread the word about the joys of reading. This accidental plagiarism is somewhat similar to that of author John Green’s much-circulated quote that was actually written by a 13-year-old reader. Except that since Dr. Seuss is no longer with us, he can’t say to the Internet, “Hey, I didn’t write that. Anita Merina did. So you should credit her, not me.”

 

But now you know. So you can get it right.

wackyanita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And when you’re getting wacky and wild sharing books with kids next week, you might also point out to them that its always a good idea to question what you read.

 

This month, support a love of reading by showing your own enthusiasm for books! Read to kids, read in front of kids and expose them to all kinds of exciting and fascinating aspects of the written word. To make reading something kids look forward to every day this month, take advantage of the special dates and activities on the February calendar.

Celebrate Black History Month

Share the stories of African Americans throughout history and honor their contributions to our culture and country during Black History Month.

aaauthorsBelle of the Book with Sherri Smith, Walter Dean Myers and E.B. Lewis

Join the National African American Read-In

Throughout the month of February the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English invites schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, communities and readers from all walks of life to make promoting literacy a traditional part of Black History Month activities and celebrate and share the works of African American writers.

Brush up on Dental Heath during National Children’s Dental Health Month

Learning about good oral health is fun for kids when they sink their teeth into a good book.

Fill your Valentine’s Day with books

Valentine’s Day can be more than candy, hearts, and flowers. Extend the love to poetry and books and encourage kids to share their favorite poems, titles or authors on February 14.

Hail to the books on Presidents’ Day

Use books to celebrate and honor the lives of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and to reflect on the contributions of all the men who have served our country as President. To distinguish the first and sixteenth presidents, plan read alouds on their actual birthdays: George Washington was born on February 22 and Abraham Lincoln on February 12.

Get ready for March (reading) Madness!

Theodor Geisel, known and beloved as Dr. Seuss, wrote and illustrated more than 40 books and gave us some of the most memorable characters in children’s literature including the Cat in the Hat. His March 2nd birthday is the date of the nation’s largest celebration of reading.  NEA’s Read Across America events and activities—with red and white hatted readers—bring reading excitement on Dr. Seuss’s birthday and provides resources to keep kids reading 365 days a year.

Belle of the Book with the Cat in the Hat and
NEA’s Read Across America’s own Anita Merina

Many readers know D.E.A.R.—or Drop Everything And Read—as sustained silent reading for pleasure during school time. National D.E.A.R. Day extends the idea to families. With so many other activities and forms of entertainment to choose from, National D.E.A.R. Day offers parents a gentle reminder that reading together on a daily basis should be a family priority. 

Who better to share this message than beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary? This national literacy campaign takes place on her April 12 birthday. Families are encouraged by campaign spokesperson, Cleary’s delightful and mischievous character Ramona Quimby, to read together at home or join other families and celebrate reading with local schools, libraries and bookstores.

  • If you’ve forgotten how much fun spending time with Ramona can be, HarperCollins Children’s Books has the first chapter of Beezus and Ramona available for online reading.
  • National D.E.A.R. Day partner Reading Rockets has a video interview with Beverly Cleary and a fun audio podcast where Mrs. Cleary answers readers’ questions.
  • A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet, Beverly Cleary’s autobiography in two books, are excellent and at the top of my favorites list of author memoirs. Either title makes for wonderful D.E.A.R. Day reading.
  • There are also great D.E.A.R. ideas and activities at HarperCollins Children’s Books’ Drop Everything and Read site.

Since this week is National Library Week, today is the perfect day to spend some quality family time at the library. What are you waiting for? Drop everything, head to the library, and READ!

I get a little “obseussed” this time of year—but I know I’m not the only one. (Do check out Obseussed to see what I mean!) So I can’t resist sharing a few more ideas for Dr. Seuss’s March 2nd birthday and NEA’s Read Across America celebration.

  • Here’s a fine something that all people really do need—a Truffula tree bookmark!

Don’t know how to finger knit? Check out the video instructions.

  • Have an active reader? Try a little “hop on pop!”

A favorite classroom activity for this title has been to cover the floor with bubble wrap and follow a reading of Hop on Pop with lots of hopping and popping! I love this quieter, softer idea for home reading from Obseussed. Follow the tutorial for creating your own Hop on Pop bed sheet. Jump with joy for reading!

  • If these trees could talk…

And in honor of the Lorax, here’s another way to speak for the trees — make a poetree!  I created this activity for Reading Rockets’ Family Literacy Bag for The Lorax.  A poetree is a work of art and literature where kids create poems or lines of poetry that are attached to the tree on strips of paper. The effect would be similar to the Chinese tradition pictured here.

There’s reading fun to be done on March 2nd! What do you have planned?

Start planning your Seuss reading party! March 2nd approaches and NEA’s annual Read Across America celebration will be here soon. This is a great opportunity for toddlers, teens and everyone in between to celebrate their literacy and language skills, the joys of reading, and their love of Dr. Seuss.

Here’s a roundup of some of the great web resources out there to help you have a Seussational March 2nd celebration. I had a hand (quite literally!) in some of them as you’ll see.

At Reading Rockets, you can send an e-card to your favorite readers and get them excited about this special day of reading, learn more about how Dr. Seuss has influenced other authors and illustrators, and find good books to put on the menu for March 2nd. You’ll also find Family Literacy Bags, free printable resources designed to encourage hands-on fun and learning. The set of reproducible activities are centered around nonfiction titles paired with The Lorax and with Green Eggs and Ham. There are even suggestions for some reading and writing fun using Dr. Seuss and your local newspaper or if you want to study Dr. Seuss in the classroom, try Reading Rockets’ Author Study Toolkit.

AdLit.org offers activity ideas and resources for bringing Dr. Seuss into the secondary classroom and celebrating Read Across America with older readers. There are also suggestions for making the day more meaningful with service.

The founder of the feast, the National Education Association, has numerous resources, reproducibles and educator tools. There’s also a special website where you can pledge your participation and find out about local events.

You’ll find Seuss resources galore from Random House Children’s Books when you visit Seussville. Their 2011 Read Across America Activity Booklet has great ideas if you want to celebrate the day in a STEMy way. With the 2012 Activity Booklet, you can get really crafty in celebrating Read Across America with The Lorax and finger knitting!

March 2nd is also the date for the release of the new film The Lorax, a 3d-CG feature created by Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. There are a number of movie related online games and activities, including a writing activity The Lorax Letter Factory. If kids are interested in a different kind of writing (and activism), check out the efforts of Ted Wells’ fourth grade class in Massachusetts:  www.change.org/petitions/z-let-the-lorax-speak-for-the-trees

Target is celebrating Read Across America on February 25 with readings of The Lorax in stores from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Free goody bags and fun activities for those who come out and read.

Some other activity ideas to consider:

Use “Read Across America” as the theme to develop an extended reading challenge. The March 2nd date can kick off this activity that encourages reading books about our 50 states or earning mileage to move across a map of the U.S. for each book read. You can develop your own mechanism for tracking readers and take advantage of NEA’s booklist featuring titles about America.

This is a classic activity I enjoyed during my time working at Reading Is Fundamental—the Book-nic! If it’s cold outside, kids will love to see the picnic blanket spread on the living room floor covered with books and delicious treats. Choose a theme around family food and reading preferences—enjoy honey grahams with Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood, sausages with the Hobbits in the Shire, or Green Eggs and Ham of course—and get your fill of food and reading fun.

Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go! has been called the perfect send-off for children starting out in the maze of life. Why not create a real maze of challenges and surprises? Share the story and then let the fun begin! Wind your maze through your home, school, or library and fill it with decorations and interesting stopping points along the way. Post grownup or teen readers in the maze to help unscramble the alphabet, get past the Hakken-Kraks, and share time in the Waiting Place. (Older readers of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will enjoy a version of this activity too!) Have rewards and refreshments waiting at the exit, along with plenty of readers to recount the all the a-mazing places kids have been.

Ted Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, firmly believed that a rich imagination was one of the most important possessions in life. Don’t forget to take yours out for a walk everyday—but let it fly on March 2nd!