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Students celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday

Dallas County Schools superintendent Dr. Fannie Major-McKenzie strolled into Valley Grande Elementary Monday morning wearing a tall, red and white striped hat. A bitter cold wind swept through the hall, rustling red, white and black streamers that hung from the ceiling. Major-McKenzie adjusted her felt hat, and she walked past a wood cutout of the Cat in the Hat toward a classroom to read the Dr. Seuss classic, “Green Eggs and Ham.”

“There’s a wealth of information in all his books,” Major-McKenzie said.

Valley Grande Elementary School students celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday Monday. They dined on green eggs and ham, colored pictures of Wockets in pockets and fish of the deepest hue of blue, and learned about the life of Theodore Geisel. Teachers designed Seuss-themed lessons and activities as part of the National Education Association’s Read Across America.

In its 12th year, Read Across America motivates children to read and helps them master basic skills. Principal Sharon Streeter said the event exposes students to reading at an early age. Board members, community leaders and central office employees read Dr. Seuss books to the students.

“It’s an opportunity to celebrate reading,” she said.

Major-McKenzie said students who begin reading at an early age excel as they grow older.

“Reading is just like everything else,” she said. “The earlier you start the more proficient and enjoyable one finds reading.”

Student from kindergarten all the way up to sixth grade enjoyed reading Seuss’ wacky, rhyming narratives. Sixth-grade student John Hartman said he enjoyed the colorful illustrations that accompany Seuss’ prose.

“The way he makes up the creatures and the characters out of nothing,” Hartman said. “It gives you a creative imagination.”

Sixth-grade teacher Wanda Brech said the students’ perk up when they hear the name Seuss.

“We’re reading ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ today,” Brech said. “They cannot wait. Our older kids, they’ve even bought the Dr. Seuss hats.”

Some students dressed up as characters from their favorite books, like third-grade student Grace Anne Ivey. Ivey dotted her face with freckles and wore a blue dress like Pippi Longstocking. She said she likes Dr. Seuss’ rhymes most of all.

“It helps you learn,” she said.

“The Cat in the Hat” might be Seuss’ most popular book. It is the favorite of many Valley Grande Elementary students, including kindergarten student Jacorbre Surles.

“The cat is messing up the house, and the fish is telling him to get out,” he said.

Streeter said developing a love of reading is the school’s ultimate goal.

“We want to incorporate reading into everything we do,” Streeter said.