Today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday! It’s Also National Read Across America Day…and, there is a wonderful connection.
Theodor Seuss "Ted" Geisel March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) or, as we know him, Dr. Seuss, was already a wonderfully popular and successful children’s author and illustrator in the early ‘50s.
According to our friends at Wikipedia, “In May, 1954, Life magazine published a report on illiteracy among school children which concluded that children were not learning to read because their books were boring.
William Ellsworth Spaulding was the director of the education division at (publishing company) Houghton Mifflin, and he compiled a list of 348 words that he felt were important for first-graders to recognize. He asked Geisel to cut the list to 250 words and to write a book using only those words.
Spaulding challenged Geisel to ‘bring back a book children can't put down’. Nine months later, Geisel completed The Cat in the Hat, using 236 of the words given to him. It retained the drawing style, verse rhythms, and all the imaginative power of Geisel's earlier works but, because of its simplified vocabulary, it could be read by beginning readers.” The Cat in the Hat was stunningly successful!
Now, as the classic radio personality, Paul Harvey, used to say, “Here’s the rest of the story,” or, as The Cat in the Hat would say, ““But that is not all. Oh no. That is not all!”
In 1998, the National Education Association, in an effort to find ways to encourage reading for children, declared that each year National Read Across America Day would be celebrated on March 2nd, the birthday of Dr. Seuss.