Dr. Seuss Still Teaching Children The Love Of Reading

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Frontier Elementary School principal Gail Gorry, dressed as the cat from "The Cat in the Hat," reads Dr. Seuss' famous tale to third-graders Friday afternoon.

The students at Frontier Elementary School spent at least part of Friday nestled on pillows, but not snoring away. They were reading books brought from home about little pink ponies and Winn-Dixie, a roaming dog.

Across the country and in Payson, Read Across America, popularly known as Dr. Seuss Day, has become a tradition.

"Dr. Seuss taught children how to appreciate reading," said Jackie LeSueur, a third-grade teacher at FES.

There would have been 100 candles on Seuss' cake on March 2, 2004. He passed away in 1991, but the legacy of his sing-song alliteration in 46 children's books is alive and well.

"(On this day,) we bring our pillows and our blankets and curl up and read, read, read," LeSueur said.

Chloe Obrecht brought the book, "Junie B., First-Grader Toothless Wonder."

"Junie B. lost her tooth and said, ‘Call 911'," Chloe said. "She didn't believe in the tooth fairy, but when she put her tooth under her pillow anyway, she got cash."

"I'm reading 13 books all at once," Jacob Scott said. The books are mostly about Pokemon characters.

Nathan Howard, a child who loves to read on his own, or listen to his parents read, is the top reader in his class. Nathan shared part of a favorite silly poem by Shel Silverstein.

"If I have one more piece of pie, I'll die. If I don't have one more piece of pie, I'll die," he read.

As of Dr. Seuss Day, LeSueur's third graders have read 1,777 books.

The average reading level of her students is 3.3, but the range anywhere from 0.3 (for a child recently moved to the U.S. from China) to fifth-grade level.

"It was fun to bring pillows and get to read," said Liza Katsigiannis, holding "Angelina the Butterfly" in her cozy, under- a-desk reading nook. "(The book is) about when she finds a butterfly and the butterfly escapes and they start chasing it."

"It is fun just watching the kids curl up with their books and just enjoy reading," LeSueur said.

The students put their books down and gathered around to listen to a special guest:

The Cat from "The Cat in the Hat."

Clothed in a black and white cat suit, with nose and whiskers painted on her face, red-and-white striped hat upon her head, FES principal Gail Gorry went from class to class in her once-a-year alternate persona.

LeSueur's students chose the story of the cats who clean up spots in "The Cat in the Hat" over Seuss' tongue-twister, "Fox in Socks" with of vote of ten to eight.

Wide-eyed, the students listened to the Cat claim, in a rather snobby accent, "I can take those spots off."

"One, two, three," the students chorused the next line in the story.

As the story progresses, the Cat makes more messes and so needs more cats to clean-up the spots.

So, the Cat lifts its hat and introduces little cats A, B and C in a shriller and shriller voice.

When the giant messy spot ends up on the snowy front lawn, an entire alphabet of cats in the hat are necessary to remove it.

Little Cat Z, so small nobody can see, brings his "VOOM!" to the rescue and blows the big pink spot and all 26 cats, back under one hat.

Tale ended, the Cat in the Hat is lauded by the grade-school listeners with a wolf howl.

Then, LeSueur's students used their own version of VOOM to clean up the classroom before the dismissal bell rang.

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