Reading is Fun Today, but Tomorrow, Well...

So, today is Theodore Seuss Geisel's birthday. Everyone and their mothers (literally) know Theo, or Dr. Seuss, author of a billion rhyming book about topics ranging from eating green food, to numbered fish, to Christmas-time heart expansions (seriously, what was the Grinch's issue, a birth defect? Parasite?). Adored by children and adults, today students across the country celebrate his commitment to literacy being fun by partaking in Read Across America festivities (if only the bars would get on board and do happy hour specials).

Read Across America was created with a positive spirit catalyzed by only the best intentions. Anything that promotes reading is great and should be given time in our schools. Participation varies from site to site, some elementary schools inviting guests to come read, while others throwing all day pajama reading parties. Seuss books rhyme, are whimsical, and often have good messages (like the environment in The Lorax). Unlike Hannah Montana (or whoever is cool right now), Seuss books bridge generational gaps, allowing parents to bond with their kids over something they remember from their youth (cue stock footage of multi-cultural families laughing and reading on Ethan Allen couches).

Alas, there are very few things I can look at without cynicism, and RAA is of course no exception (frozen 100 calorie Hostess cupcakes: exception). I guess in a way it's like the perspective some view Valentine's Day with- really, we're going to set just one day aside for this? What frustrates me, though, is that after March 2nd has come and gone, it's back to our regularly scheduled programming, which so happens to be strict, structured language arts programs that do their best to eliminate novels and creativity from the curriculum. It's fun to wear read and white hats and read five billion rhyming books today, but sticking a brightly colored bandaid on a really boring, tedious program for teaching reading is unacceptable. Every day should invoke the spirit of March 2- reading needs to be taught in a fun, high-interest environment, minus the crazy hat/pajama/excuse to have snacks in the classroom hoopla. The NEA website says this is their ultimate goal, but let's be realistic- in the world of pacing guides, excerpted novels (ehhh, kids, don't worry about the rest of the book), workbooks, and extreme testing it can be hard for both teachers and students to muster up enthusiasm for language arts. Unfortunately, when school boards and book publishers go to bed together their love child ends up being really mundane, not to mention expensive to deliver.

Everyone who's been in the education business awhile says programs and philosophies are cyclical. Hopefully, a new era for how public schools teach reading and literature is approaching. I think I can see it coming- oh wait, sorry, that's just another budget cut. The answer isn't private school or giving up- the system needs to be challenged and parents need to help foster a love for reading in their own homes. Until then we can at least look forward to March 2.


  1. i <3 dr seuss without him i probably wouldnt know how to count fish or all the places i could go. i do admit i do have a cat in the hat build a bear.

  2. Wait what? Parents are the keys to student success? All along I've been beating myself up over here. So sad!!

    I love "I think I can see it coming- oh wait, sorry, that's just another budget cut." Made me laugh out loud.
    I do have to add that Read Across America day was the bomb in first grade! We did really fun things with them!