Children celebrate Dr. Seuss

With rhyming words and quirky characters, Dr. Seuss took the literary world by storm in 1936 with his first children's book, "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street." His books continue to be a tool for literacy among students in the nation.

Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Geisel in Springfield, Mass., would have celebrated his 96th birthday Thursday and schools around the nation took advantage of the special day to encourage reading. Geisel passe away in 1991. The National Education Association began the "Read Across America" campaign in conjunction with Seuss' March 2 birthday.

Elementary schools in Moffat County used the day to encourage reading.

East, Sunset and Ridgeview elementary schools invited community leaders from all professions to read to children and talk about the importance of reading in life. The "Read Across America" campaign encouraged teachers to have one caring adult read in their classroom for 30 minutes.

"The theme of today is to take advantage of the opportunity to focus on reading and to build literacy within the program," Ridgeview Elementary Principal Pete Bergmann said. "Teachers are doing a variety of activities to build literacy."

At Sunset Elementary, the Parent Advisory Committee performed a Dr. Seuss-related play for students. Costumes and the rhymes kept students on the edge of their seats.

The Moffat County High School varsity boys basketball team and senior citizens also visited Sunset Elementary, reading and talking with students about literacy.

East Elementary staff members, some complete with the traditional extended, striped Dr. Seuss hat, kept students interested throughout the day.

"The kids are pretty excited they can relate to Dr. Seuss pretty well," East Elementary Principal Guy Gladden said. "Sometimes we forget humor is important. This is a good excuse to remind kids that we can have fun."

East Elementary has been anticipating Dr. Seuss' birthday since September 1999. The theme of the school's 1999 Moffat County homecoming parade float was "Cat in the Hat: Read for 2000."

This was a chance for students to see and hear readings of some of their favorite books. The children would read along with some Dr. Seuss books, make the noises when called for and other times just listen. All in all, school officials believe the day was a success.

"Reading is supposed to be fun and we want to encourage kids to remember that, Gladden said. "We want kids to become lifelong readers."

Although maybe not appealing for some, the school district also served green eggs and ham for lunch.

In 1960, Dr. Seuss wrote "Green Eggs and Ham" after a colleague bet him $50 he couldn't write an entire book using only 50 words. But Dr. Seuss did it and "Green Eggs and Ham" continues to be one of the most popular children's books in libraries today.

Seuss' "Cat in the Hat" was written with 220 words and had instant success. His books have non-ordinary illustrations and playful rhyming schemes to teach reading to children. He wrote and illustrated 44 children's books and his list of awards include a Pulitzer Prize and Academy Awards.

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