Seuss' birthday a celebration of reading

Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2011

Such noise emanated from the Juneau Arts and Cultural Center on Wednesday — rhymes of the most poetic of nature coming from the voices of many — while colorful characters of an imaginable sort strolled about.

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Wednesday was Dr. Seuss’ birthday and the Juneau Education Association celebrated Read Across America with Juneau schools and youth.

Allison Smith, JEA educational excellence chairwoman and teacher, said the event happens every March 2 across the nation, and started in 1998.

The Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and other of Seuss’ memorable characters were seen at the event. Children created Cat in the Hat hats and got face paintings of different Seuss creations. Each child got to pick out one book to take home. Festive cake was also served by the Juneau-Haines Reading Council.

As a kick-off, Jeff Brown gave a magic show that was based on literacy in reading, but the biggest focus of the evening was the guest reading.

Coast Guard members, a Juneau police officer, local authors, high school hockey players and other volunteers read Seuss’ (and a couple other) books to children of all ages.

Thing 1 and Thing 2, bedecked in blue hair and red outfits, were Gastineau Elementary librarian Paige Merriam and Harborview Elementary librarian Julie Leary.

The pair picked the Things because they’re active characters.

“They got into mischief a lot and they’re such fun characters,” Merriam said. “Making a costume, we knew we could find this blue hair.”

Leary said the books have endured time and continue to be a childhood favorite. Merriam said she had to order a new collection because hers was so worn.

“Students are still checking them out like crazy, as are all the teachers,” Merriam said.

Classrooms throughout the district focused on activities from Seuss’ literature as well, with painting Cat in the Hat hats, reading the books and making green eggs and ham.

“We look for these kind of opportunities to capitalize on reading and Dr. Seuss, of course, was one of the greats of all time,” Merriam said.

The librarians had trouble nailing down a favorite Seuss book. Merriam’s tops were “McElligot’s Pool” and the story about the Sneeches.

“I grew up on it,” Merriam said of McElligot’s Pool. “The pictures, it takes me right back to 4 years old.”

Leary’s favorites were “Horton Hears a Who” and “One Fish, Two Fish.”

Caleb Peimann, a second-grader, has read quite a few Seuss books and likes ones with the Cat in the Hat. He enjoyed Wednesday’s celebration.

“I just like that there’s a whole bunch of people reading to you,” he said.

Alyssa McCracken, an eighth grader, particularly enjoys “Green Eggs and Ham.”

“I think it’s pretty nice, it’s good that we’re celebrating about Dr. Seuss,” she said. “I think it’s neat how they’re giving out books. I really love reading myself, so I think it’s really neat that they’re handing out books to children.”

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at

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