Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Appreciating the works of Dr. Seuss

What a beautiful rainy morning! Kaitzer was running around multitasking as usual, preparing lunches, collecting signatures, doling out money, making breakfast and advising on homework. I was trying to find my car keys.

“Joe! It’s Read Across America Day,” Kaitzer said.

“What’s that?” I asked. I must have missed the memo.

She explained that the day commemorates Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March 2, and celebrates the joy of reading.

“Read Across America is the largest celebration of literacy in America,” she said.

I had found my keys but couldn’t find my wallet. Consequently, I was in a cantankerous mood.

“Why is Dr. Seuss’ birthday singled out? I think there’s a ton of writers far more expressive than him,” I said.

My mother didn’t raise no fool, thus I should have realized that after 22 years of marriage, I couldn’t win against Kaitzer.

“We’re not comparing apples to oranges,” she said.

Comparing apples to oranges! She stole my line. It’s all I remember as a philosophy major.

“Children’s books are a separate genre,” she continued. “There are few authors that compare with the greatness of Dr. Seuss. He changed the way people view children’s literature. What makes him special is his unique way of viewing the world. With his delightful rhyming skills, each of his books have a significant message but at the same time they’re fun and silly.”

Read Across America Day is commemorated by members of the community reading to children at our local elementary schools. Ah! It finally dawned on me; today I was supposed to be a reader. I forgot to read that memo inviting me to participate.

Of course Kaitzer had answered her invitation and was scheduled to read to Lisa Marie De Leon’s third- grade class at La Cañada Elementary. Things usually work out the way they should since she would read noteworthy children’s literature and I’d probably wind up talking about the Spartans ripping the Immortals at the battle of Thermopylae.

“What are you going to read?” I asked.

“‘Horton Gives a Who’ by Dr. Seuss and ‘The Recess Queen’ by Alexis O’Neill,” she responded. I thought that was a bit advanced for third-grade students.

“Dr. Seuss’ imagery, metaphors, and melodic literary cadences and the intricate story lines of both books are age appropriate,” she responded.

What the heck is a melodic literary cadence?

I learned both books are pertinent to children valuing and believing in themselves. The subliminal messages and magic of story teaches important life lessons and creates synapses to the world. Thus understanding others and ourselves is increased exponentially.

Each week I assign a different book to my theory class at Glendale Community College. I insist that literary competency creates connections to the infinite plethora of awareness. It’s the principle of basic background. The more association one has with the world of thought, the greater amount of knowledge they assimilate. I assume that Read Across America Day jump starts this process. The premise is to boost children’s enthusiasm to read. The research is conclusive that motivating children to read enhances achievement and creates lifelong successful readers. Children who read books do better in school.

I was heading to Starbucks and she to LCE. We’d meet later at the pep rally at La Cañada High School. At the rally, I asked her a few more questions about Dr. Seuss; I needed some ideas for this column.

“He was a poet, a cartoonist, and served in World War II,” she said.

I was beginning to like him. A poet! The Greek word “peece” translates to “poetry.” Its derivative is found in the word creation. The ancients viewed poetry, writing, and story as symbolic to all creation.

“Life is a poem of an endless harmonic ensemble of sounds, grace, harmony, balance, and story,” I commented.

“Dr. Seuss knew this and that was his gift,” Kaitzer replied.

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JOE PUGLIA is a practicing counselor, a retired professor of education and a former officer in the Marines. Reach him at doctorjoe@ymail.com. Visit his website at doctorjoe.us.

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