Today (March 2nd) is Read Across America Day

Today (March 2nd) is Read Across America Day

Today is the NEA’s (National Education Association’s) Read Across America Day!

Official Site

This is an event…actually, lots and lots of events, focused on children reading, and especially on reading to children.

You can even pledge to do your own event at the site above.

I was interested to see that there are also events taking place outside the USA (Hong Kong; Alexandria, Egypt; Minsk, Belarus…), although they seem to focus on English-speaking and perhaps American students.

Why March 2nd?

It’s the birthday of

Dr. Seuss (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I would suggest that Theodor Geisel (birth name) may be one of the most influential authors to get children into the fun of reading.

Certainly, the rhyming helps…it makes it possible to memorize an entire book before you can read it, which makes it easier to then associate the words with the sounds (since you know which words go with which pictures and pages).

However, I think it’s also important that not everything is happy in a Seussical world.

There are real conflicts and concerns. There is even social commentary.

The Cat in the Hat is certainly not the sort of completely even-keeled, happy, conformist type of character that some people think exemplifies children’s literature.

The Cat is a rebel. Even though there is a voice of reason (in a fish bowl) arguing against the mischief, it’s there.

Green Eggs and Ham is all about a conflict.

I think having real emotions, and real reactions to events, helps the Dr. Seuss books resonate with children (and other humans). 🙂

I recently got for my birthday and read

Dorothy of Oz (at AmazonSmile*)

by Roger S. Baum, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum.

I’m a big Oz fan, and I really appreciated getting the book (I actually got a hardback as a collector’s item, and then bought the above Kindle version to read).

However, it didn’t feel very much like my beloved Oz books, despite having a pretty good knowledge of the points of fact from the originals.

One of the biggest things that stood out to me is that there was really no conflict between the “heroes”.

In the originals, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and Dorothy often have conflicts of opinion. They have to at least talk out their different points of view. They respect each other, certainly, and they are really friends…but that doesn’t mean they instantly agree on everything all the time.

Roger S. Baum’s version doesn’t have that…it appears that being a good person means that you agree with all of the other good people all of the time.

That’s not the world Dr. Seuss shows us…

Lest I be taken for a dogmatic Zax, though, I can understand people wanting to read conflict-free books to their kids…this just wasn’t a good tonal match for the Baum (or Ruth Plumly Thompson, for that matter) books.

That’s one of the great things about reading! Every book is a way to see the world from a different viewpoint than yours, which I think is one of the most valuable things in the world.

Enjoy Read Across America (and the world) Day!

What do you think? Are you involved in any events today? Does conflict belong in children’s books? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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