Friday, March 1, 2013

Celebrate Dr. Seuss's Birthday

10 ways to make National Read across America Day a family fun day


March 1 is the National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America Day, part of the annual celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  NEA’s Read Across America, a year-round program, is building a nation of readers by motivating children and teens.
 
Now in its 16th year, the Read Across America Day movement is asking every child in every community to celebrate reading on the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.  To help with this exciting challenge, here are 10 easy ways to make this day a special event for your family.

1. Cook up A READING ADVENTURE


A great way to get the entire family involved in Read Across America Day is with their stomachs.  Serve up a day full of book-themed and reading-themed meals, even involving the children in some of the simpler recipes. For example, all it takes is a couple drops of green food dye to make a Dr. Seuss-themed breakfast by scrambling up some green eggs and ham. Or make a Robinson Crusoe-themed meal by serving up island food, including coconut water, pineapple slices, and other Polynesian, Hawaiian, or Caribbean treats.

Green eggs and ham
Green eggs and ham is an easy Dr. Seuss-themed breakfast to make!

2. Check your local library for reading programs


Many libraries and communities are celebrating Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss's birthday with special programs, such as readings of Dr. Seuss's books or movies.  Contact your local library for details.

3. Make a Seuss-themed day


We already suggested green eggs and ham for breakfast, but you can make the entire day special right there at home by reading Dr. Seuss books. 
Consider making each book even more special by also renting Dr. Seuss videos of the book.  And if your child is less interested in reading then watching a video, consider making the movie of the book a reward for first reading the book.
But don't stop there; think how much fun it would be to have the family get dressed up like Dr. Seuss, or like the colorful characters from his one of his books. 

4. Family reading in character


While reading aloud helps make the day special for children who don't yet read, you may find your older children getting fidgety. A fun and easy way to spice up reading aloud is to choose a book with several characters and assign each child to become that character when you read, perhaps with the adult reading the narrator parts. Encourage your kids to have fun with this, "getting into character" with their readings, and possibly even with movement or attire.

Mother reading to kids
Reading together can be fun for kids of all ages

5. Read in chorus


If you are reading a Dr. Seuss book, or any other book with strong rhymes and rhythms, you can make reading aloud more participative by reading aloud together, in chorus.  This is especially helpful if you have some shy members of the group who might not be confident enough in their reading to do so aloud solo.

6. Reading day crafts


Between moments of celebrating by reading books, you can also celebrate the day with reading-related crafts and projects. Ideas include handcrafting bookmarks, decorating or making a lap desk, and doing author-related or book-related coloring or painting projects.

7. Literary Field Trip


Even if your library isn't doing something Dr. Seuss-themed, this is still a perfect day for a field trip to your library or a local bookstore.  Encourage children to find books related to their personal interests. Without your prompting, a child might not consider that, if they enjoy flying kites, there might be books on how to make kites, for instance.  Or locate a fiction story that is set in the city or country where you are going for an upcoming vacation.

8. Reading contests


Kids reading
Reading contests can be both fun and rewarding. It could be a short contest, such as accurately or quickly counting the number of times an author uses a particular word. Or make it a daylong contest, such as who can read the most pages before dinner.
You can also use this special day as a kickoff to a month-long reading challenge. Such a challenge in my fourth grade created the foundation to what became a lifelong love of reading for me.  It was simple enough; the student to read the most books (and write a one-page book report on each) by the end of the semester got to have lunch at a local restaurant with the teacher.  Several of us took the challenge seriously. Yes: I won.  But the real victory was for any of us who created a habit of reading as a result of the contest.
The reward for your contest need not be expensive to be worth winning, and their only needs to be one competitor.  For example, give your child a challenge to read a certain number of books before 5 PM.  If they succeed, they get to stay up an hour late, or they get to turn you into a chocolate sundae, painting your hair with chocolate syrup and whipped topping.

9. Embrace internet reading


Books are not the only way to encourage reading. I remember when my teen daughter went through a phase of being "too cool" for reading. Yet at that same age, she would voluntarily spend hours on the family computer, studying information about a topic she was deeply interested in.
Obviously, the Internet introduces some risks to children, so use it wisely as a teaching tool.  But your Internet connection can bring reading fun to your family.  For instance, take a look at the Skype an Author Network, which lets you create a virtual visit with an author.  Also check out Google Lit Trips, offering free downloadable files that mark the journeys of famous authors or characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. 

10.  Make it buy-a-book day


If you are on a limited budget, and it's therefore a rare treat when your child gets a new book, make this that exception day, allowing them to go to your local bookstore and pick their own book.  This not only encourages reading, but makes the day more of a celebration – a positive memory related to reading and family.


ONLINE READING DAY RESOURCES


For more information and more resources for your family's Read across America Day celebration, check out the following resources.
Got any great ideas of your own for Read Across America Day?  Don't keep them to yourself – use the comment section below to share with our readers. 

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