Saturday, March 2, 2013

It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how.

When the sun does not shine and it's too wet to play, a good way to have fun is to play along when a talkative, human-sized cat makes a mess of your house and gives your fish a good scare. When you're a builder of peculiar machines, a good way to have fun (and make a bundle) is to prey on the petty insecurities of a group of lemmings Sneetches. And when it's week 23432 of winter, a good way to have fun is to make a big deal about one of your favorite authors turning 109.

Much as I'm enjoying discovering new books lately (I will  finish Seraphina before it's due back to the library), it's a lot of fun to direct my attention back to an old favorite, and they don't come much favorite-er than Dr. Seuss. I learned to talk on Hop on Pop, and I credit Seuss's longer works with the fact that anapestic tetrameter is my favorite meter, which is a long-winded way of saying that he was a major contributor to my interest in writing in rhyme. These days, it's really gratifying to see how many parents love Dr. Seuss's work and pass on that enthusiasm to their kids; having Seuss books on display and hearing parents read them aloud has provided a welcome break from all the TV show-based spinner books kids usually insist on hearing. (Only Elephant and Piggie, many-time winners of the Seuss-inspired Geisel award, seem to have the same power to inspire spontaneous read-alouds.) The one complaint parents seem to have is that most Seuss books are too long, which is reasonable, but their repetitive nature can make them great for kids learning to read. (And it's okay to skip a few lines when you're reading aloud. Really.)

As I tell customers all the time, the most important thing you can teach kids about reading is that it's fun. And if anyone knew how to have fun, it was Dr. Seuss.

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