For some students, some days it may seem like all reading is mandatory. Books are for good for learning, studying, memorizing and analyzing.
Well, Sharon Hale says that is a common misconception. With her troop of Redoubt Elementary School staff behind her, all donning floppy, tall red-and-white-striped hats, on Wednesday, March 2, Hale marched through the hallways with a tangle of red and black balloons hoping to correct the rumors.
“It’s a little madness,” Hale said heading through the school, putting the last party decorations in place. “That is what I do, I cause a little madness in the school all year long. It’s fun.”
Her face was coated in white paint, and her tail trailed and bounced behind her. Students stopped in the middle of their treks to class to ask her about the occasion. There are a few, she explained. It was the beginning of Love of Reading Month, and the National Education Association’s Read Across American Day, the date of which has been scheduled to fall on Theodor Seuss Geisel’s, or Dr. Seuss’s, birthday.
Which, was ultimately why Hale was turning heads as the Cat in the Hat that morning. She has organized an onsite celebration to honor the world-renowned author every year for almost two decades.
Armed with some pretty good materials, she sets out to remind students reading is also fun.
“If they find something they like, they are much more likely to read,” said Dan Grimes, Central Emergency Services Deputy Chief. “To me, that is what it’s about.”
Grimes volunteered to read a few titles to Lynne Dawson’s kindergarteners Wednesday. He started with “There’s a Wocket in my Pocket,” which is not an easy way to warm up. He paused between passages to tell the kids tidbits of Dr. Seuss trivia, like the fact that the author was published under a few different pen names. Grimes also read stories that were not written by Dr. Seuss including the ever-inquisitive Curious George, which kindergartener Spruce Baxter said is one of her favorite books. Grime was invited, along with a group of community figures to pay a visit the school’s classrooms for Love of Reading Month.
“Reading is such a fundamental aspect of education,” Grimes said.
Dawson said it is good for her class to see other people read beside herself. Students who have strong reading skills can even influence their peers, she said.
“It helps them want to do it themselves,” Dawson said.
Her student Hayden Howard said he likes to read Dr. Seuss because of the intricate rhymes and rhythms hidden in the prose. He said it makes reading a little more interesting that way.
He added his favorite Dr. Seuss book is “Green Eggs and Ham,” which he has at home. Howard likes the ending because Sam, who spoke so adamantly against the green eggs and ham throughout the story, ends up trying the dish and liking it. Howard added he could never try the same cuisine however, because he is allergic to eggs.
The school has other programs aimed at encouraging a sense of enjoyment in reading.
Redoubt teacher Bobbie Baldwin said the older grade levels read an entire chapter book during Love of Reading Month. The student picks a title of their choice, she said.
So much can be gleaned from completing an entire book, Baldwin said. It expands vocabulary and fluency and the reader can gain life experience through another person or character’s story, she said.
“It gives students a choice to find a book they will enjoy, and helps them to want to continue to read,” Baldwin said. “Reading curriculum is set, but this gives them choices.”