LUMBERTON — Friday marked the 114th birthday of the author and illustrator Theodore Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, and West Lumberton Elementary School celebrated by giving away books.
The school surprised 103 students with their own Dr. Seuss book to take home.
“You can’t help but love a Dr. Seuss book,” Principal Tara Bullard said. “They’re fun and they have a message.”
The students were surprised with the books after a reading by Robert Locklear, assistant superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability for the school system.
“They were so happy,” Bullard said. “We gave them their book as they walked out and let them read outside.”
School staff and leaders decided to use money donated in the wake of Hurricane Matthew to purchase the books, Bullard said. The school was destroyed by the hurricane, forcing the school district to relocate the students to Lumberton Junior High School.
“Literacy is very important,” Bullard said. “It’s a skill they are going to need to defy the odds.”
Students were given one of seven titles, all classics: “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,” “Wacky Wednesday,” “Oh the Things You Can Think!,” “I Am Not Going to Get Up Today,” and “Hop on Pop.”
This is the 21st anniversary of the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day. As a part of the week-long celebration, people volunteered to read at various elementary schools. Educators reach out to parents, grandparents, business leaders, politicians, law enforcement, civic leaders and others to read to the students.
Mary Rogers, a retired second- and third-grade teacher for the Public Schools of Robeson County, was one of the volunteers. She read for a second-grade class at East Robeson Primary School. The book she chose was “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!”
After reading the book, Rogers asked the class questions and talked about Dr. Seuss following his dreams and how they can follow theirs.
“Sometimes we don’t go the route our parents want us to go,” Rogers said. “Dr. Seuss did not fulfill his father’s wish to become a real doctor, but he fulfilled the wishes of his heart.”
Dr. Suess wrote and illustrated more than 60 children’s books. He is well known for his tongue-tying rhymes for children of all ages.
“There are so many kids that don’t like to read and I just think he makes it fun,” said Kristy West, principal of East Robeson Primary School about Dr. Seuss. “It encourages reading every day.”
West read a book every day over the intercom as part of Read Across America. She said some of the books were actually difficult for her because of the tongue twisters.
“I had students come up to me and ask if my tongue was numb,” she laughed.
Other schools celebrated the week with themed days.
Pembroke Elementary School had students wear a T-shirt Friday based on the book “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” At Southside Ashpole Elementary School students wore as much green as possible Monday to celebrate the book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and dressed wacky on Wednesday for the book “Wacky Wednesday.”
The National Education Association has found that children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read to aloud every day than are children in families with incomes at or above poverty.
“Read Across America Day highlights the importance of reading aloud to children. We know that literacy is the foundation of learning,” Shanita Wooten, interim superintendent for the Public Schools of Robeson County, said in a statement. “Learning to read and having a desire to read expands the mind and leads to incredible opportunities. In Robeson County, it’s not just a day of reading; it is about cultivating a lifetime of good reading habits that will translate into academic success.”
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached by phone at 910-416-5865 or be email at [email protected]