Literacy still a concern

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 1, 2003

Nearly 100 years ago today, Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born. He was the author and illustrator of 44 children's books, such as "Green Eggs and Ham" and "One Fish, Red Fish, Two Fish, Blue Fish." But he is

probably most recognized for "The Cat in the Hat."

That book was actually inspired by a concern that children weren't reading because they thought it was boring.

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In 1954, Geisel's publisher sent him a list of 400 words that he thought children should know. Geisel used 220 of them to create "The Cat in the Hat."

Children's literacy is still important today. With distractions from extra-curricular activities, television, the Internet and video games, leisure reading can easily become an afterthought.

This is cause for concern.

A love of books starts with being read to at an early age. The U.S. Department of Education found that young children who were read to frequently were also more likely to count to 20, or higher, write their own names and read.

According to the National Education Association, having kids read often is one of the crucial components to becoming a good reader. Young readers need to practice recognizing letters and sounds, according to the NEA.

Not only is it Dr. Seuss' birthday, it's Read Across America Day, which was formed six years ago by the NEA.

Schools in Austin will recognize the day Monday with reading activities and all schools have been asked to "drop everything and read" at 1:45 p.m.

Starting good reading habits now, may help retain them in the future. Studies show that older students do not read for fun as often as younger ones.

Parents often have a substantial influence on their children's reading habits, according to the NEA. Help make reading a part of a child's daily life. Visit the library today or make time for a good book.

Your children may be better off in all aspects of their life for it.