Lessons from Read Across America

Published 9:24 am Friday, March 10, 2023

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 The month of March is National Reading Month, and it is kicked off each year on March 2, the anniversary of Dr. Suess’s birth. Read Across America was created in 1998 by the National Education Association as a yearlong program to focus on reading with a big celebration on March 2. 

It is important to make a big deal about reading to young children even when they are infants. Children are sponges and absorb the world around them. It exposes them to language, teaches them how to speak, and allows them to hear new words. As they grow older, it helps them to understand things around them and to realize, as Shakespeare wrote in the 17th Century, “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Pretty much, things exist and there is more to the world than their neighborhood and more answers to questions or problems.

When my children were younger, I read to them quite a bit. They would not like it as much now since they are both in their 20s, but my oldest has learning issues. She can learn, but she learns differently. Reading was a struggle for her, but she could tell you what happens in the book and she could find those little obscure trinkets in the search and find.

I will be the first to admit, I don’t always read the instructions, unlike Gene Franques, L’OBSERVATEUR’s sales person, who always reads the instructions. I don’t feel the need to read, “Do not eat,” on a nonedible item. But because I can read, I am able to look up what I did wrong when my new project falls apart.

For those that say reading is boring, the answer to that is, “you are reading the wrong thing”. If you can dream it, there is probably some written about it, and if there isn’t, you can be the first.

Last week various people such as local officials, clergy, police officers, firefighters and service groups read to children and made it a party. L’OBSERVATEUR published some photos of these visits on its website this past weekend, and there are additional pictures in this edition. 

While writing cutlines – the description that goes with pictures –I looked up and read Dr. Suess quotes and realized much of what he said is still valid. The quotes read like a self-help book containing wisdom that comes through living.

•“When something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let is destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”

• “Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you’ve ever imagined.” 

•“Cause when a guy does something stupid once, well that’s because he’s a guy. But if he does the same stupid thing twice, that’s usually to impress some girl.” 

• “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

•“To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world.”

•“If we do not choose, we will end up with none.”

I realize this isn’t quite what Suess meant, but I really do not like to choose what to eat for dinner, where to go to eat or what I want on the menu. This is because I make so many decisions and problem solve every day that choosing what to eat can seem overwhelming. There is a cartoon that implies picking what to have for dinner every night is the hardest part of being an adult. Gary Dupre who was the L’OBSERVATEUR admin before he passed would quote lyrics from a Rush song to me, “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.” 

• “I’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.”

• “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Gene Franques, the aforementioned instruction reader, is considered by the federal government to be a senior citizen. Gene, who does his best to defy that classification, says something along these lines when someone doesn’t like him even though he is quite delightful. 

• “Only you can control your future.” 

“Everything stinks until it’s finished.” Just because something isn’t going as you would like doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to quit. The only time you fail is when you quit. The popular lubricant, WD-40,with many, many uses got its name because it took 40 attempts to get it right.

•“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Everything has an ending, even this long-winded column.

Christine Browning is general manager for L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at christine.browning@lobservateur.com.