Adults, it’s OK to read Dr. Seuss

Published 9:10 pm Thursday, March 3, 2016

It doesn’t matter how old you are — Dr. Seuss was just a great storyteller.

It takes a closer look to discover the messages behind his stories, such as the value of an education that teaches students to think (“Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!”) and the importance of taking care of the environment (“The Lorax”). But the joy of the made-up words, tongue-twisting rhymes, crazy characters and fun illustrations is enough to thrill any reader of any age and keep the lessons from seeming too pedagogical.

I rediscovered how much I love Dr. Seuss during the Read Across America Day at Oakland Elementary School on Wednesday.

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Several schools hosted similar events, but Oakland’s library media specialist specifically invited me, and it had been a while since I’d visited there. I wasn’t disappointed in anything.

The guest readers, which included Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney, Mayor Linda T. Johnson and School Board member Linda Bouchard, were on point in reading, even with all the made-up words and tongue-twisters. They took time to stop and talk to students about the lessons behind the stories.

The Seuss themes didn’t stop in the classrooms. Green eggs and ham were served in the cafeteria. The PTA got involved as well, making Dr. Seuss-themed crafts for decorations and gifts for guest readers.

I hadn’t read “The Lorax” before I heard the mayor read it, but it’s now one of my favorite Seuss books. “Yertle the Turtle” is and always will be my favorite. Sorry, Cat in the Hat.

Events like Read Across America day, which celebrates reading in general but is often Seuss-themed because it’s on his birthday, are another of the many things Suffolk Public Schools are getting their students involved in to encourage a love of reading. As many have rightly pointed out, reading affects students’ work across the curriculum. Students who are not strong readers cannot learn about history or science, certainly not about English, and can’t even solve word problems or read the directions on a math test. They can’t discover art history or learn how their bodies work in health class. And the effects on their life will only become more pronounced after they graduate.

The Read Across America celebration at Oakland was a job well done, and I look forward to my next trip back to the school.