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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Students celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Kelly Elementary School Librarian Beth Rolwing reads a Dr. Seuss book to students.
SIKESTON -- In honor of one of the most beloved children's authors in history, area students took the time Tuesday to celebrate the 100th birthday of the works of Theodor Seuss Geisel, who is best known as Dr. Seuss.

So come on, you say, it's off to Seussville -- QUICK! QUICK! -- let's find out what they've done . . . because the clock is going TICK! TICK! to the countdown of their fun.

It all began at Kelly Elementary when students grades K-5 dressed as their favorite Seuss character Tuesday.

"He's the fun doctor," Kelly Elementary librarian Beth Rolwing said about Seuss. "He's not a doctor you go to for medicine. He helps teach kids to learn."

Individual classes at Kelly were also doing activities, Rolwing said. For example, fourth graders made butter and read "The Butter Battle Book." Rolwing read to the students and showed a Power Point presentation of Seuss, too.

Southeast Elementary first graders Zachary Stinnett and Dhruvi Bhakta admitted they learned a thing or two about the witty author. Zachary said he knows Seuss wrote 44 children's books while Dhruvi knows Seuss died in 1991.

"I like his books because some are funny and they use rhyming words," Dhruvi said.

Zachary and Dhruvi, along with the rest of their class, went to the computer lab and played Seuss games on www.seussville.com. They read books that connected to specific lessons in class.

For example, in the "The Cat in the Hat," they discussed rhyme. In "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" they talked about adjectives and with "The Foot Book," they played fun games, explained Zachary and Dhruvi's teacher, Laura Maloney.

"Students like the rhyming in their books and they like it because its easy to read," Maloney said. "The books are silly and funny and not always real -- plus the students like to laugh."

Outside of Dr. Seuss' 100th birthday Tuesday, it was also the National Education Association's Read Across America day. Dubbed the nation's biggest reading party, the day encourages people to read a book to someone they love, Rolwing explained.

Read Across America also joined in honoring the good doctor and celebrating the fun and value of reading. And "no one illustrates better the pleasure and the power of learning to read than Dr. Seuss," NEA President Reg Weaver said in a recent statement.

"Oh, the kids love Dr. Seuss," said Ann Thompson, children's librarian for Sikeston Public Library. "They just sit there and hang on every word you say."

Thompson presented a Dr. Seuss program for Sikeston Headstart's family night at the center. After reading "The Cat in the Hat," they made Cat in the Hat hats, bow ties and tails.

"When kids see 'The Cat in the Hat' they already say Dr. Seuss -- that's how they associate Dr. Seuss is through "The Cat in the Hat," she said.

Throughout the month, the Sikeston Public Library is paying tribute to Seuss during preschool story time, Thompson noted. At the time of Seuss' death on Sept. 24, 1991, some 200 million copies of his books, translated into 15 different languages, had found their way into homes and hearts around the world. Since then, sales continue to climb, estimated at more than 22 million since 1991, the NEA reports.

One of the remarkable things about Dr. Seuss is the longevity of the children's books he written, pointed out Evelyn Biler-Menz, who teaches a course on children's literature at Southeast Missouri State University.

"Most children's books have a lifespan of five years -- and there are a couple 100 that have that incredible life span, and Dr. Seuss' books are among those," Biler-Menz said.

While some adults may think some of the vocabulary Seuss uses is nonsensical, foolish or silly, Biler-Menz said Seuss' stories are really interesting and have an immense vocabulary.

"He uses vocabulary in a fun way. He creates intrigue for readers, and they're challenged by him in fun a way," Biler-Menz explained. "I just have the utmost regard and respect for Dr. Seuss."