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Taylorsville Journal

Dr. Seuss inspires literacy activities at Taylorsville elementary

Mar 28, 2017 04:12PM ● By Bryan Scott

Assistant choir director Michelle Kelly leads the school choir in a song from “Seussical the Musical.” (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Dr. Seuss’s birthday is celebrated every March as one of Read Across America’s activities to encourage the love of reading. Taylorsville Elementary joined in the celebration on March 1, with a whole day and night of “seussical” activities.

Taylorsville’s PTA invited leaders from the community to read Dr. Seuss books to students throughout the day. Leaders such as Taylorsville Mayor Larry Johnson, district early childhood specialist Kim Babka, local firefighters and police officers, a former school secretary, former principal Michele Love-Day, current principal Janice Flanagan and radio DJ Jessica Ferguson volunteered to participate.

“The kids were so into it,” said Ferguson. “We had fun talking about the stories and where they were headed.” It was Ferguson’s second year reading to the kids. She is a fan of Dr. Seuss books.

“They are funny, colorful, and they get me tongue-tied if I read too fast,” she said.

Later that evening, families were invited in on the fun with a Dr. Seuss-themed literacy night.

The evening kicked off with the school choir performing a song from “Seussical the Musical,” a Broadway play based on the works of Dr. Seuss. They also debuted a school song written by their director, Danny Hilder.

Activities stationed throughout the school were based on Dr. Seuss books.

Kodi Klaus, a fourth-grader, said her favorite activity of the night was based on her favorite Dr. Seuss book, “There’s a Wocket in my Pocket.” She created her own addition to the book by making up silly rhymes and illustrating them.

In another classroom, kids were encouraged to think about their goals and dreams and write it on a balloon-shaped paper, like the one on the cover of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”

Other activities allowed kids to make crafts. Puffballs and pipe cleaners were provided for kids to make their own “truffula tree” pencil-topper while Miss Utah International Maddie Jonely read “The Lorax.”

Organizers were not afraid of mess when they let kids play in bowls of green slime while listening to “Bartholomew and the Oobleck,” a book about sticky green globs that create a big mess.

Activities were facilitated by PTA members, parents, teachers and volunteers from United Way. They expected about 200 people, but nearly 400 attended, said Bernice Allen, an instructional coach at the school.

“This was the biggest turn-out we have had at our Literacy Night, ever,” said third-grade teacher and parent Leslie Porter.

Some fans even dressed up for the event. Fourth-grader MacKenzy Goode wore a “Cat in the Hat” costume as did her sister, cousins and grandma who came with her.  

“The first book that I read by myself was “Green Eggs & Ham,” said MacKenzy. It is still her favorite book by the author, whom she is very impressed by.

“Dr. Seuss was a really famous writer, and for him to get there, he had to use his imagination,” MacKenzy said. She said she is impressed that the author did not stop trying until he finally found a publisher who liked his work.

According to the National Education Association, who promotes Read Across America literacy activities:

“Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.”

To further support students to make reading a priority, the PTA gave each child in attendance one scholastic dollar to be used toward a purchase at the book fair, held during the last hour of the night. It was a popular spot for families.

“The book fair met their monetary goals and provided families with books for their home libraries,” said Allen.

The evening culminated with a pizza dinner. 

Taylorsville encourages reading year-round by participating in the Ken Garff Road To Success reading program. Students are encouraged to read 20 minutes a night, and they earn rewards when reading goals are reached, said Allen, who coordinates the Road to Success program.

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