Thanks to Dr. Seuss, and my mom, I love to read. As a five year old, I would proudly read (or more likely recite) Green Eggs and Ham.
I will not eat with in a box.
I will not eat with with a fox.
I will not eat them here or there.
I will not eat them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam I am.
These words would elicit the same response from my mom every time I read them. “Stop reading that book! You’re making me sick!”
My mom wasn’t anti-reading, or anti-Dr. Seuss, she was pregnant with my younger sister and the mention of green eggs and ham made her nauseous. What power! As a five year old I could make my mom sick by reading! Of course I wanted to learn to read!
Years later, another mother helped me inspire a group of kindergarteners to want to read. As a media specialist, I taught a unit on identifying fiction and non-fiction books by reading and discussing books about cats. Naturally, The Cat in the Hat was included. What better book to illustrate examples of fiction!
However, upon introducing the book, one little girl raised her hand and announced her mother would not allow her to read “that book”. When I asked why, she said the cat taught children to do bad things.
Bingo! I had the students’ undivided attention! After excusing the student from the classroom to find a book in the media center she’d like to read, I dove in to The Cat in the Hat with the remaining students. Needless to say, they looked for all the bad things in the book.
Not only did I help the children identify elements of fiction, but we also discussed how the children in the book should have responded to avoid the problems caused by the Cat in the Hat. I should have written a thank you note to the little girl’s mother who wouldn’t allow her to read “that book” because her daughter’s words inspired many students that day.
I could see the look in their eyes. Like me, they realized the power of books, and they couldn’t wait to get their hands on one that upset adults. We couldn’t keep The Cat in the Hat on the shelves and everything Dr. Seuss increased in popularity.
Want a child to read? Just tell them you hate a book – The Cat in the Hat, Harry Potter, Goosebump books…they’re all more popular when adults disapprove.