Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!
His name is Dr. Seuss.
My first Seuss book was Green Eggs and Ham. If I remember correctly, it was a gift from my Uncle Grant. My parents read it to me before I could talk. By the time I was a preschooler, I had it memorized, and my dad and I would go back and forth reciting it to one another.
"That Sam I am! That Sam I am! I do not like that Sam I am!"
Even as I write this post, the refrain is playing in my head: "I do not like green eggs and ham! I do not like them, Sam I am!"
Later, of course, there were other Seuss books, Horton hears a Who!, The Grinch that Stole Christmas, Hop on Pop. The list goes on.
And there were other authors and other books. A Child's Garden of Verses was one of the next books my parents added to my collection. And yes, nearly 50 years later, I still remember lines from Stevenson's poems,
"Oh, how I love to go up in the air, up in the air so high..."
"When I was sick and lay abed, I had two pillows at my head..."
And one about a barn loft that my brother and I used to recreate in the top of my grandfather's barn.
The point is books matter. Reading matters, and yet, according to the Literacy Project Foundation, illiteracy has become such a problem in the U.S. that 44 million adults are unable to read a simple story to their children -- a book like Green Eggs and Ham. Six out of 10 households do not buy a single book a year, and 44 percent of American adults do not read one book a year. Obviously, these trends have significant impacts with far-reaching implications on the national economy and on society as a whole.
So, what can you do about it? Here are a few suggestions:
- Read to your kids, and take the time to read for pleasure yourself. Turn off the television, get off Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social media venues I may have missed and open a book. (By the way, it's OK to use an electronic device to read a book. Just turn off the notifications while you are reading.)
- Check out your local library. Many now provide the opportunity to check out books online.
- Don't know where to start? Look over the New York Times Bestseller List, Pulitzer Prize winners from the last several years and National Book Award finalists. Those lists are where I found treasures like The Orphan Master's Son and All the Light We Cannot See.
- Join a book club at your local library or with a group of friends. Talk about what you are reading with others.
- Start a "book club" with your kids. Set aside an hour or two one night a week to read a book together aloud. Then talk about what you are reading.