Cat in the hat and all that visits Fairland

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

Yesterday morning, just one day delayed,

A visit to Fairland East was made

By the Cat in the Hat who was there for the need

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To show children the fun they can have when they read.

He brought along friends from radio and TV,

And the children sat before each celebrity

To hear tales of Grinches and Whos

All for the birthday of dear Dr. Seuss.

Evelyn Capper, Fairland East Elementary library media specialist was responsible for organizing the reading event.

Capper wanted to set a day aside to teach children early that reading can be fun, and she could think of no better way to convince them of that than with one of the most beloved children's authors ever: Theodore Geisel, more popularly known as Dr. Seuss.

"The National Education Association celebrates 'Read Across America' every year the in the first week of March, and they wanted to make it coincide with Dr. Seuss' birthday, which is March 2," Capper said. "And we wanted to celebrate it at Fairland East."

Capper decided that the day might be more special for children if there were some local celebrities involved, and after putting out a few calls she was thrilled to find several volunteers happy to share their love of reading and Seuss with the children.

Wearing a smile as wide as the copy of "A Wocket in My Pocket" she was clutching to her chest, Brooke Thacker from WSAZ read to a class of first graders.

Thacker said that, aside from helping children with their reading skills, her motive for attending the reading day was very clear.

"It's fun," Thacker said. "It's a fun part of our job that we don't always get to do. I am a Dr. Seuss fan; I grew up, as so many generations have, with him. I mean, you can talk to grandparents who say 'Oh yeah, I read Green Eggs and Ham.'"

Visits from the celebrities were integral to the event, but they were almost run aground by a few flurries. Capper was thrown a curveball when Fairland schools were canceled due to snow on Tuesday, the day her event was supposed to take place.

To her relief, however, most all of her celebrity readers were able to make last-minute changes to their schedules allowing them to participate.

A whole day of Seuss

Though she hopes readers enjoyed themselves, Teresa Johnson, principal of Fairland East, is more concerned with making sure the children got a kick out of the event.

"It gets kids excited about reading, it makes reading fun for them, but it also makes school fun for them," Johnson said. "School is hard for students, but you need to have some fun while you're learning."

The fun started on Wednesday as the Cat in the Hat, Seuss' chapeau-clad feline wordsmith, greeted the children first thing in morning as they left their school buses.

The school went an extra tasty mile to get the students excited about reading, as they headed from their visit with the Cat to the cafeteria on Wednesday morning for a heaping plate of real green eggs and ham.

All of the kindergarten through second grade students that the building houses were then read to by their own media all-star. Some of the students were even lucky enough to hear a tale from the Cat in the Hat.

A practical purpose

All this work to teach students the pleasure of reading, Johnson said, is not done just so the children will pick up the latest Dean Koontz or Stephen King in their adult years. Those who learn reading is fun in their younger days are bound to have better performance as they climb the educational ladder, she said.

"We encourage them to read here because they have to learn to read in kindergarten through grade 2, but later on they read to learn," Johnson said. "So if we can make it enjoyable for them they'll want to do that much more reading, and it's going to be easier for them all the way through school."

Capper was pleased, the kids' heads were growing

And all were quite thrilled that it had stopped snowing.

The day was a joy! The day was a treat!

And everyone had something green to eat.

Teachers, students, and readers gathered outside

To send off the Cat, who was saying goodbyes

They shouted to him as he rode into the sun,

"As we learned with Seuss, we learned learning is fun!"