Dr. Seuss, Reading and Successful Learning
Successful Learning Educational Services recently purchased two limited edition Seuss prints from Marcus Ashley Fine Art Gallery in Tahoe, Nevada. The art displays our work perfectly! Our tutors and staff come alongside a student who would love to be able to read. These students, who need reading instruction provided in the way that they learn, require support during this journey to reading. We provide the necessary support and instruction. In time, students are then able to read whatever they desire on their own. This is the reason we are celebrating!
In September 2017, Successful Learning Educational Staff and families celebrated the unveiling of limited edition prints of two of Dr. Seuss renditions from Seuss’, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut. It was a fun event and we are proud to display these prints to remind us of the positive outcomes for students when they receive reading instruction in a structured literacy environment.
Historical Reading Instruction
“Dick and Jane primers came with guides that championed the “look-say” approach. This method—which became popular during the 1930s—calls for largely ignoring phonics. Instead, a printed word is repeatedly shown to a child while the teacher says it out loud. Helpful pictures are often involved as well. So typical Dick and Jane paragraphs go something like this: “Look, Spot. Oh, look, look Spot. Look and see. Oh, see.”
“With enough repetition, pupils learn (at least in theory) to “sight read” a given word and add more to their vocabulary—and subconsciously pick up the basics of phonics in the process, enabling them to break down and pronounce new words on their own for reading.” (source)
This approach to reading began to be used in the 1830’s in America and is still used in many educational communities today. Interestingly, the approach assumes that students will simply learn the basics of phonics by having exposure to the written language. What was experienced using this method by educators as they began measuring progress, was that reading scores were dropping, even in the 1960’s.
This method gained a resurgence in the 1990’s with the popular approach to the Reader’s Workshop, use of the computer with computer based games, and other popular methods. The results have been the same as in other generations where the method of look-say teaching has been used. Many students do not become proficient readers.
We know that Dr. Seuss wrote many books beloved by children and their parents. The sharing of these stories happens early in most children’s lives, at home and at school. Children love to pick up these books and “read” them. To learn more about early reading, explore the content below:
So, what does that have to do with Dr. Seuss?
The 1960’s classroom was filled with Dick and Jane books. Seuss believed the Dick and Jane books were boring to children.
Houghton Mifflin, a prominent book publishing company, noted that reading levels were going down in schools. A director from Houghton Mifflin reportedly sent Seuss a list of 350 words students were expected to easily read and gave him the challenge to write a book that would keep children interested in reading, using at least 250 of the words on the list. The Cat in the Hat was the result! Seuss used 250 words to write this now quintessential, must-have book.
Green Eggs and Ham was born out of a bet from Bennett Cerf, Seuss’ editor. He bet that Seuss couldn’t write an intriguing book with only 50 words. Of course, Seuss proved him wrong. Green Eggs and Ham is comprised of only 50 words and is a favorite book of many children.
Dr. Seuss’ books gained immense popularity over time. Even today, Read Across America, a national movement created by the NEA that promotes reading across America, uses Dr. Seuss books as a promotional tool to encourage reading in all 50 states. We applaud the effort our schools are making to promote reading at every grade level.