Today students at the Kindergarten Center will once again celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss, creator of the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, and dozens of other characters who have been embraced by young readers for over 60 years.
"The teachers still read a lot of his books," said Jenny Hobeck, principal for the Sikeston Kindergarten Center. "Our librarian still reads them with our children - they're still very popular."
Born March 2, 1904, on Howard Street in Springfield, Mass., Theodor Seuss Geisel got his start as a cartoonist. The Saturday Evening Post was among the first publications to use his work. Other early work by Seuss included animated training films for the U.S. Army starring a Seuss character called Private Snafu.
But Seuss is best remembered for his children's books. After being rejected 27 times, the first book illustrated and written by Dr. Seuss, "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street," was published by Vanguard Press in 1937. Since then, children and adults alike have taken to his books like the Whos to a roast beast on Christmas.
Dr. Seuss died Sept. 24, 1991, but not before finishing 44 illustrated children's books for generations to enjoy.
Several teachers at the Kindergarten Center have activities planned "in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday," according to Pam Kuppart, a preschool teacher at the Center.
"In my room, we are going to read 'The Cat in the Hat,' and we're going to read 'Green Eggs and Ham,'" Kuppart said. "We're having green boiled eggs that we're going to open and eat, and we'll have little pieces of ham, so we'll have green eggs and ham to go along with the story."
Unlike Sam I Am, preschoolers have no reservations about green eggs, according to Kuppart. "They love them - they love to crack the boiled eggs, and they find them fascinating that they're green," she said. "We're also going to wear some special Cat in the Hat hats made of paper."
In addition to having green eggs (and ham!), the students in Kuppart's class will study raw eggs and are anxiously awaiting the hatching of fertilized eggs in an incubator. "Hopefully Thursday or Friday we'll have real chicks," she said.
Kuppart said she also plans to show some short animated video clips by Dr. Seuss during the day and will wind up the day's events with a special snack: Popsicles that change colors.
Dr. Seuss books have definitely withstood the test of time, Kuppart said, and are still enjoyed by children today.
"They're the classics - they always enjoy them," she said. "The rhyming is always good for phonemic awareness, which is a reading readiness skill. They promote reading readiness."
With the books having been around for generations, "the parents are familiar with them," Kuppart said. "It's something a parent feels comfortable with."
Dr. Seuss books are perfect for parents to read with their children, she said, as children can easily follow the words across the pages.
"The illustrations are simple, the rhymes are simple, and they're funny - kindergarten and preschool kids like funny books," Kuppart said. "I'm just glad he wrote so many good books for preschool children. Lots of rhythm and rhyme in the preschool years - brain research encourages that for children."