Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss; Library and schools promote reading
For young children throughout Secaucus, March 2 proved to be a day in which books came alive. The Secaucus Public Library, Huber Street School and Clarendon School participated in the "Read Across America" program, joining millions nationwide celebrating the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel who wrote such classic children's books as "The Cat in the Hat," "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" and "Green Eggs and Ham." Geisel - better known as Dr. Seuss - would have been 95 years old on March 2. This is the third year that the program has been held in Secaucus and throughout the country, with estimates of over 20 million people involved this year. Although in Secaucus, the library and the schools held slightly different versions, Read Across America is an innovation of the National Education Association in celebration of the works of Dr. Seuss. "Over the last three years we've done different things to celebrate," said Nancy Cashinelli, reading specialist for Huber Street School. "Last year, Howard Cross came to read and Natolie's Deli sent over green eggs and ham for the kids." Two years ago, students from Huber Street and Clarendon School went to the Mall at Mill Creek, where businesspeople joined educators and parents to read. Irene Dewland, reading specialist at Clarendon School, said parents are very innovative. In one case, a parent came to read Johnny Appleseed and brought apples for the children. Another parent came to read Homer Price's Donut and brought donuts. Colleen O'Shaughnessy McKenna, author of many of the children's books used as texts in classes, read to the students last year. This year at Clarendon School, Principal Ralph Merlo read the Shel Silverstein classic "The Giving Tree," a rendition parents and teachers called moving. At Huber Street School, teachers, parents and even grandparents came in to join in the fun. "This year's theme is based on the TV show 'Who wants to be a Millionaire,' but we renamed it, 'Who wants to be a reader?'" Cashinelli said. At the Secaucus Public Library, police officer Linda Mangone, the Secaucus DARE officer, put on a big hat and joined library employee Robert Zibowich in reading to the pre-K kids as part of the library's extended story hour. Library Director Katherine Steffens said other kids were invited to take part in the ceremony. Mayor Dennis Elwell stopped by, saying a few words of encouragement to the kids and delivering a large cake. Police Chief Dennis Corcoran was also on hand. Elwell stressed the importance of reading and said he was encouraged by programs like this, which helped prepare kids for the future. Theodore Seuss Geisel - legend has it that he added the "Dr." to his pseudonym to please his father who always wanted a doctor in the family - is arguably the most popular children's author of all time. His first book, "And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street," was published in 1937, after which he went on to publish 48 books in 20 different languages. According to the "Dr. Seuss and His Friends" website - http://clubhouse.grolier.com/club/docs/ club/seuss/index.html - Geisel never underestimated the intelligence of his young audience. "Children are a tough audience," he once said. "You can fool an adult ... but a kid can tell if you're faking immediately." It is precisely this respect that has enabled Dr. Seuss to remain at the top of children's literature reading lists for generations, making him the ideal icon for Read Across America Day.