Students at Sunshine Elementary School in Lehigh Acres enjoyed green eggs and ham for breakfast a few days ago in honor of Theodor Seuss Geisel, the famous author of some 46 children's books that are used in schools across the nation today as an aid in helping students learn to read.
Sunshine Elementary, as did several other schools in the county and in Lehigh, celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday this month with hundreds of decorations hanging on the walls all over the school.
"The students really loved it. The free breakfast of green eggs and ham really got them started in the day we devoted to Dr. Seuss and his books," said Rose Erdstein, a parent involvement specialist and teacher at the school, who helped to put the whole program together.
"We had folks in the community and from the school district come to our school and read to the children from Dr. Seuss' books. The kids loved it and I think those who read enjoyed it, too," she said.
The program is held annual in March and is referred to as Read Across America with Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Joseph Burke, Lee County's superintendent of schools, paid a visit to Sunshine Elementary School on Sarah Ave as did Capt. Ronald Curtis, commander of the Lee County Sheriff's Bravo District substation in Lehigh. Seven of his deputies showed up all eager to read to the kids, Erdstein said.
Master teachers from the school district office in Fort Myers were part of the program as were others from the district office, some local high school students and members of local businesses in Lehigh.
"And we don't want to forget BJ's they are one of the great sponsors of our school," Erdstein said.
What a day it was at Sunshine Elementary.
Some teachers had blue hair and others dressed as characters from some of Dr. Seuss' books.
In all, some 300 children were read to during Dr. Seuss's birthday celebration.
"All the children love Dr. Seuss' books. It is a fun way for them to learn to read and his books, many written years ago, are as lively today as they were when they first were published. Accompanying illustrations in the book make the children laugh," she said.
Little Mea Hollenback, a member of the kindergarten class at Sunshine Elementary, said she really had fun on Dr. Seuss' birthday
"I love the story about the green eggs and ham," she said. Other children around her nodded and seemed excited to talk about the many characters in Seuss' books.
Jessica Flanders, a kindergarten teacher said most of the young children know about Dr. Seuss' or if they don't remember his name, they do remember the characters in his books.
"It's fun reading for them. And it was fun for all the things they drew and cut out and are hanging on the school's walls in the school," Flanders said.
Altogether, Erdstein said there were more than 300 children who were read to in the day-long program at the school.
"Students in 30 classes were read to by teachers and those who came to read to the kids," she said.
"I'd say there were between 35 and 40 teachers who participated in the fun event."
Even Principal Dr. Winston Bishop enjoyed the day watching his eager students enjoying reading.
For those who have never read a Dr. Seuss book or know anything about the author, just ask a young child. In addition to books, there are movies about the characters.
The author whose life isn't widely known was born Theodor Seuss Geisel on March 2, 1904. He was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist mostly widely known for his children's books written under the pen names Dr. Seuss, Theo LeSieg and in one case, Rosetta Stone.
He published 46 children's books, which were often characterized by imaginative characters, rhyme and frequent use of an anapestic tetrameter, which is a poetic meter employed by many poets of the English literacy canon It consists of four rhythmic units, anapests, each composed of two weak beats followed by one strong beat; often, the first weak syllable is omitted, or an additional weak syllable is added at the end.
An example of this meter can be found in his book, Yertle the Turtle.
His most celebrated books include the bestselling Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch stole Christmas.
Over the years there have been at least 11 TV specials, four feature films, a Broadway musical and four TV series using his literary works.
His birthday has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association.
Dr. Seuss died at age 87 in La Jolla, California.
Erdstein said this year was the biggest Seuss reading event ever at Sunshine Elementary.
"It gets better and better each year," she said.