Dr. Seuss is my Homeboy!

Tuesday was Read Across America day, chosen as such because it’s the birthday of Dr. Seuss (who, btw, is probably one of the most influential authors to shape my own writing life).

Me, I read all of my classes GREEN EGGS AND HAM. Literally, I sat them all on the carpet (criss-cross apple sauce style) and these rambunctious, worldy, street smart teens immediately reverted into a crowd of 34 first graders eager for story time.

Never diminish the power of reading to your students. For the sake of modeling. For the sake of fluency. For the sake of fun. Wasn’t a kid in my room who didn’t just LOVE it.

Of course, it’s probably most fun for the teacher, though. Makes me jealous of all the elementary school teachers who get to read to their kids all the time.

Anyway, as a warm up, I wanted the teens in my room to think about their own early childhood experiences with books so I had them do a quick write on: Cite three memories you have about being read to when you were a young child (about the age of 4).

And of course, I got the hands shooting up… “But what if you don’t have any memories of being read to, Mr. Alan?”

Now whodda thunk that the kids with that question floating around in their heads were some of the kids with the lowest skills in my English class 10 years later? Must be a coincidence that these are my most “at-risk” students, right? I mean these kids are still trying to play catch up for the work that was never done before they even really entered “official” school. (I am thinking kindergarden as “official” because pre-school is not mandatory and thus, so, so, so many of the lower-economic students I teach never went to pre-k.)

And speaking of pre-K, my own daughter will, of course, enter kindergarden with two full years of pre-K in her belt (a private school, of course) — and at least 1-2 books a night having been read to her since the moment her dendrites started to form. (Okay, I am a weirdo and used to read to my daughter in the womb… laugh away but I drank the kool-aid on the value of reading long, long ago!)

So, for class homework on March 2? Go find a little kid that needs reading to. Cousin. sister or brother. Neighbor. They are plenty of little munchkins floating around Lynwood. It’s yet another way that I explain the importance of books and reading and literacy to my students over the course of the year. Hopefully, it will be a lesson they will value and pass on to the next generation when that time comes.

Perhaps they’ll even be womb readers!!

Happy Birthday Theodore Geisel (that was the real name of Dr. Seuss). Your work has shaped mine forever.

You are my Homeboy!