UNION COUNTY — The Union County Education Association and The South Carolina Education Association are co-sponsoring visits by “The Cat in the Hat” to area schools and the Union County Carnegie Library for Read Across America Month.
Read Across America is an award-winning literacy program founded by NEA (National Education Association) in 1997 through a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., and Random House. NEA’s Read Across America Day is celebrated every year on or around March 2 — the birthday of Dr. Suess, the beloved children’s author. Now in its 16th year, this year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships and reading resources. Across the country, thousands of schools, libraries and community centers participate by bringing together children, teens and books.
City of Union Mayor Harold Thompson signed a proclamation designating March as Read Across America Month.
“Citizens of Union, South Carolina stand firmly committed to promoting reading as the catalyst for our students’ future academic success, their preparation for America’s jobs of the future and their ability to compete in a global economy,” the proclamation states. “The City of Union has provided significant leadership in the area of community involvement in the education of our youth, grounded in the principle that educational investment is key to the community’s well being and long-term quality of life.”
South Carolina Education Association Uniserv Support Advocate Rebecca Rochester donned a “Cat in the Hat” costume and visited classrooms at local elementary schools and the Union County Carnegie Library on Friday and Monday. As “The Cat in the Hat” entered classrooms, students quickly began to ask questions, with the most popular question being “Where are Thing One and Thing Two?”
Rochester explained to students that Dr. Seuss wrote various types of sentences and changed the way children’s books were written.
“Before him, no children’s books were written in rhyme,” Rochester said. “There were rhymes in nursery rhymes, but not children’s books.”
Rochester read to the younger elementary classes, and played a fill-in-the-blank game with older elementary classes, using the Dr. Seuss book “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think.” She showed classes that Dr. Seuss thought outside the box, using examples of fantastic illustrations and made-up words such as “snuvs,” which were characters who wore gloves in the story.”
Rochester said Read Across America promotes reading as well as reading aloud to others.
“It promotes reading to everyone — all ages, not just little ones,” Rochester said.
Rochester explained that on Monday morning, she read to an exercise class for seniors at the Union County YMCA, and they were thrilled to listen as she read a story.
“Everyone enjoys having a book read to them,” she said.
Not only is being read to an enjoyable activity for children, but it is also crucial to their future. According to Union County School District literacy specialists, children should read or be read to at least one hour every day from the time they are four months old until they take the SAT if they want to attend a four-year college.
Award-winning author and educator Paul Kropp said, “Between the ages of four and nine, children will have to master some 100 phonics rules, learn to recognize 3,000 words with just a glance and develop a comfortable reading speed approaching 100 words a minute. They must learn to combine words on the page with half-dozen squiggles called punctuation into something — a voice or image in their minds that gives back meaning.”
How does Kropp suggest teaching this? Get children interested in reading at an early age.
The NEA suggests trying these successful reading tips for reading to infants and toddlers:
- Snuggle with your child with her favorite blanket or toys as you read.
- Read with expression using different voices for different characters.
- Emphasize rhythms and rhymes in stories. Give your toddler opportunities to repeat rhyming phrases.
- Use pictures to build vocabulary by varying objects and their colors.
- Use pictures to develop speaking vocabulary by talking about what is shown.
- Encourage your child to repeat what you say or comment on it. Encourage your child to ask questions. Provide models of interesting questions and examples of possible answers. “I wonder what is going to happen next? I think the rabbit will get lost because he is not paying attention to where he is going. What do you think?”
- Look for books that are about things that interest your toddler. For example, does your child like cars, insects, or animals?
- Make reading a habit for bedtime, after lunch, or after nap time.
- Give your child a chance to choose his own books. If your toddler chooses a book that is too long to hold his attention, read some and skip some, discussing the pictures and how they relate to the story.
- Read stories again and again. Your toddler enjoys repetition and it helps him become familiar with the way stories are organized.