My turn

Encourage children to read and they'll never lack for adventure

2014-03-09T00:00:00Z Encourage children to read and they'll never lack for adventureBy Bill Vargo Times Columnist
March 09, 2014 12:00 am  • 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

~ Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"

We have been working on rhymes at home over the last few weeks, specifically writing poetry for my youngest son’s fifth-grade English class.

Sam is an avid reader and delights in reading passages of his newest book out loud. So, dabbling in poetic verse was a great deal of fun.

I like to put different rhymes to use around the house, drawing in an occasional contributor. We start with a simple phrase and move it along until we run out of ideas or words to rhyme. The nice thing about this  family activity is that it really expands your vocabulary.

So it is that we come to the end of a week celebrating arguably the best children’s writer of any generation. Dr. Seuss was able to draw children and adults into his make-believe world by the power of his words.

We often sit around before bed and talk about our favorite foods, movies, TV shows and authors. The easy one is authors.

At or near the top of my list will always be Dr. Seuss. You cannot help but smile when you read "Green Eggs and Ham" or "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"

It is the poetic meter that draws you into the experience and, frankly, all other authors pale in comparison. Reading, like any great passion, comes with constant contact. You pick up a book and enter another world or another time period.

"The Cat in the Hat" and "Horton Hears a Who!" will remain on our bookshelf for as long as the boys enjoy a good laugh. Dr. Seuss books set the stage for other kinds of material, both silently read and read aloud.

Readers can always point to the origins of their love for books. It may be that there were books around the house. Growing up, we had Archie comic books and Reader's Digest, People Magazine and the daily newspaper to read.

But we also had a well-stocked book case with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew sharing space with William Manchester and Alistair Cooke.

While reading is contagious, it is also true that the reader has to be drawn into the experience. With all the distractions, reading slips down the list against  electronic games, sports, TV and music.

While that is to be expected, we do well to draw the youngest ones into the web of reading by allowing them to express themselves in writing and to read out loud.

There is a place out there for all types of reading and the National Education Association celebration of Dr. Seuss’s 110th birthday is a perfect example. Schools across the nation have taken time to draw kids into reading in a way that brings reading to them. In Sam’s class, they could bring a book of their own choosing.

He is into the Percy Jackson books now, so while a couple of those tomes in his backpack kind of weigh things down, it is worthwhile in the end. Anything that can stoke his young mind to take on more difficult and challenging reading is fine with me as long as we don’t get rid of those Dr. Seuss books.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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