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Dr. Seuss and friends take reading to the halls at Williams elementary

Teachers at Williams Elementary-Middle School get in the spirit of Dr. Seuss as Read Across America is celebrated at the school March 1. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

Teachers at Williams Elementary-Middle School get in the spirit of Dr. Seuss as Read Across America is celebrated at the school March 1. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

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Students share a book during Read Across America week at Williams Elementary-Middle School. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

Williams Elementary-Middle School students participated in the 20th annual Read Across America Day March 1, in honor of the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Brilliant, playful and always respectful of children, Dr. Seuss charmed his way into the consciousness of four generations of youngsters and parents. In the process, he helped millions of children learn to read.

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Williams students read books during Read Across America week at Williams Elementary-Middle School. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

To celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday, middle school students read with elementary school students in the school’s hallways. Students also came to school dressed as their favorite Seuss character.

Read Across America Day has grown into the nation’s largest reading observance with more than 45 million participating.

It is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), Dr. Seuss Enterprises and Random House. NEA’s Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading March 2.

In addition to the 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers who make up NEA membership, some 40 national organizations and associations give their support.

About Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 2, 1904. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1925, he went

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Williams students read books during Read Across America week at Williams Elementary-Middle School. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

to Oxford University, intending to acquire a doctorate in literature. At Oxford, Geisel met Helen Palmer, whom he wed in 1927. Upon his return to America later that year, Geisel published cartoons and humorous articles for judge, the leading humor magazine in America at the time. His cartoons also appeared in major magazines such as Life, Vanity Fair, and Liberty. Geisel gained national exposure when he won an advertising contract for an

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A student listens to a story during Read Across America week at Williams Elementary-Middle School.

insecticide called Flit. He coined the phrase, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” which became a popular expression.

Geisel developed the idea for his first children’s book in 1936 while on a vacation cruise. The rhythm of

the ship’s engine drove the cadence to And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

During World War II, Geisel joined the Army and was sent to Hollywood where he wrote documentaries for the military. During this time, he also created a cartoon called Gerald McBoing-Boing which won him an Oscar.

In May of 1954, Life published a report on illiteracy among schoolchildren, suggesting children were having trouble reading because their books were boring. This problem inspired Geisel’s publisher, prompting him to send Geisel a list of 400 words he felt were important for children to learn. The publisher asked Geisel to cut the list to 250 words and use them to write an entertaining children’s book. Nine months later, Geisel, using 225 of the words given to him, published The Cat in the Hat, which brought instant success.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and three Academy Awards, Geisel authored and illustrated 44 children’s books. His stories are available as audiocassettes, animated television specials and videos.

While Theodor Geisel died on Sept. 24, 1991, Dr. Seuss lives on, inspiring generations of children of all ages to explore the joys of reading.

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