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Students visit Seusville

Guests read Dr. Seuss books to kids for national Read Across America Day
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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The kids gathered on the floor squeal as they see an extremely long, striped red-and-white top hat bounce by their classroom window at Cirby Elementary School.

“She’s coming, she’s coming!” a few of them yell.

In walks the Cat in the Hat, or rather retired kindergarten teacher Sandy Taylor dressed in a full-body black outfit, big red bow tie, red and white socks, a hat and red slippers. She pulls out the Dr. Seuss book “Green Eggs and Ham.”

“I’m going to ask you to help me and do some rhyming,” she tells the third graders.

Taylor visited the Roseville school Wednesday, March 2, in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. She joined several other guest readers as part of Read Across America, a national day that celebrates reading and attempts to generate enthusiasm for reading among children.

Launched 14 years ago, the day is sponsored by the National Education Association, California Teachers Association, and several other literacy and youth groups. In addition to highlighting the link between reading and academic achievement, the day also shows how books open up an exciting world of creativity and imagination.

“The value of today is we want kids to know that reading is fun,” says Joanne Devine, reading specialist at Cirby School. “Dr. Seuss reminds us of that.”

The man behind the famous pen name, Theodor Seuss Geisel, wrote 44 illustrated children’s books during his life. Seuss was also his mother’s maiden name. His family emigrated from Bavaria, part of modern-day Germany, in the 1800s.

Geisel passed away in 1991 at 87 years old.

As Taylor reads “Green Eggs and Ham,” she speaks softly then loudly, speeds up certain passages and changes the tone of her voice to tell the story of Sam-I-am nagging another character to taste the dish until finally he does — and his opinion of green eggs and ham changes.

Along the way, students shout out rhymes they know: house and mouse, boat and goat, rain and train. Taylor asks the kids if they would ever be brave enough to try the dish and how they might go about cooking up some green eggs and ham.

“You’d probably have to scramble them and when you make them, put in green food coloring,” says Beckie Neiderheiser.

The teacher clarifies that blue food coloring works best because the color appears green on yellow eggs. In another classroom, Roseville City School District board of trustees President Susan Goto reads “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Cat in the Hat.”

“That’s what the (students) like,” Goto says. “They are familiar with these ones and they can join in with me.”

The former Cirby teacher — she taught fifth grade there for 17 years — spent the morning participating in another Read Across America event at Woodbridge Fundamental Elementary School. Eight readers there visited every room on campus.

But the students at Cirby don’t hang out in Seussville all day. Beth Gaines, candidate for the 4th District Assembly district, stopped by and read “Go, Dog. Go!” by P.D. Eastman and guest reader Al Pennell read “You are Special,” by Max Lucado.

The Roseville fire engineer used to read this book to his own children, who are now all grown up.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com.

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For more information about Read Across America, visit www.nea.org/readacross.