by Staci Troilo
Sunday, March 2 is Dr. Seuss Day, and National Read Across America Day, because it’s Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Schools will celebrate today, March 3. What better way to commemorate the birth of an American icon, a man who loved children and learning so much that he devised a method of storytelling using rhyme and nonsense while combining whimsical characters and important themes to teach the basic skills necessary for success?
I loved reading Dr. Seuss as a child (and having his work read to me). My favorite book was Fox in Sox because I got to try to say all sorts of crazy tongue twisters while seeing what trouble was on the next page. When I had kids, they thought I was amazing because I didn’t stumble over the words in the book. They didn’t realize I’d had decades of practice. But we all delighted when they were able to say the rhymes in the book without error, and I don’t know who was more proud—them or me—when they stopped reciting the words and actually began reading them.
As much as I loved Fox in Sox, my children loved The Lorax. I read that book to them so many times, I could recite it from memory. It was one of the longer Dr. Seuss stories, but I didn’t mind. Not only are all Dr. Seuss stories easy to read, there are few better feelings than having a daughter in one arm and a son in the other, nestled against you under a blanket while you share a beloved story. Some of my best memories of my kids’ childhoods are of when we read together, and I have Dr. Seuss to thank for some of our favorite books.
We had quite an extensive children’s library, and when my kids got older, we gave a lot of the books away. Not the Dr. Seuss books, though. My parents read them to me. I read them to my kids. And my kids and I will read them to my grandkids. Some stories never grow old. I just recently became a great-aunt (I’ve always been a great aunt, but now I’m a great-aunt; see the distinction?), and I can’t wait to start reading Dr. Seuss to my great-niece. We start them early in our family, and we start them right.
See, Dr. Seuss is a hero to writers like me because he not only touched our lives as children, but he continues to impact the lives of the next generation of children every day. I often credit my mother for sparking my interest in writing because of the word games she played with me and the books she read to me, and I still do give her that credit, but I also have to point to Dr. Seuss as the author who first influenced me. It was his work that first piqued my interest in books, and there are probably many other authors out there whose love of books began with Dr. Seuss.
How do you plan to celebrate Read Across America Day?