“On March 2, the National Education Association calls for every child to be reading in the company of a caring adult.”
The above comes from the official website of the NEA calling us to the celebration of one of the finest daily holidays we could celebrate. Tomorrow is National Read Across America Day, in honor the birthday of the great lyricist, Dr. Seuss.
When our girls were in elementary school, their teachers celebrated this day in style. On this one day, our girls could wake up in their jammies–and stay in them. (Though, technically, I think they usually chose clean ones. I think.) They could wear fuzzy striped slippers and bring Disney Princess sleeping bags, and eat s’mores in class. (No, not over an open fire.) In one classroom, the lucky ones got to read in “the tent.”
Since forcing our kids to read was never an issue for their teachers (though child #1’s teachers had issues with getting her to not read during class), they usually got to read in the tent.
And they read. All day. It was our kids’ favorite day of school. For one day, they forgot about ISAT preparation, PSE preparation, ISPSHUH? preparation and all the other preps for other standardized tests teacher have to administer to prove their own worth to the government (I feel another blog coming on this one). For one day, they focused on the one thing most likely to ensure good school performance–reading. Did you know that, along with the lack of a father in the home, the inability to read functionally is the most common denominator among prison populations?
One year, I was privileged to go into the classroom and read my favorite childhood story. In our house when I was growing up, we had two old, crackly volumes of The Complete Works of Rudyard Kipling. I don’t know why. I’m pretty sure I was the only one who ever read them, but someone must have wanted them enough to buy them. The same goes for the two-volume Complete Works of William Shakespeare that sat next to them. Both of these sets I have to this day. Though my mother was not educated past high school and my father past eighth grade, they made sure we had enough to read around the house, encyclopedias to look up all kinds of questions from inquiring minds who wanted to know, and library cards.
Over and over, I sat reading the small-print no-pictures Just So Stories in that set. I loved stories that answered questions like why and how, and I loved these stories’ singsong rhythm and imaginative language. So, I chose to share Kipling’s The Beginning of the Armadillos with kids I hoped would be equally enchanted. I’m not sure if they were or not. It’s tough to read 4th graders. Especially ones that are in their pajamas, so they already look sleepy.
In honor of Read Across America Day, will some of you share with us your favorite childhood story? Not the whole thing, of course, but what story or stories made you smile? What did you return to the most often? What did you love to read to your own kids, if you have them? And kids who reads this–what did you most like to hear?
Have a great Read tomorrow! I am looking forward to it.