"Everyone has a Dr. Seuss memory," said Mendenhall River first grade teacher Mindy Barry. "You remember the first time you heard Hop on Pop."
By helping parents recall these experiences, Barry and event co-chair Kelley Harvey, Mendenhall River reading specialist, sought to encourage reading. According to Harvey, the goal of the reading-themed evening was to "build community and promote literacy - both at school and at home."
Fans of Seuss packed Mendenhall River School on Friday, March 2, eager to celebrate the author's 103rd birthday and the 50th anniversary of the publication of "Cat in the Hat" and "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas." At tables in the foyer they used strips of red paper to fashion the Cat in the Hat's signature cap. Then, map in hand, students headed down the hallways to discover Seuss-themed activities.
The evening was organized like a treasure hunt. Students visited different classrooms to participate in activities and collect a stamp for each on their map. The completed map could be turned in for a piece of birthday cake.
With generous sponsorship from the Juneau Education Association and the Juneau Haines Reading Council, there were art projects, puzzles, board games, Seuss videos, and Seuss computer games. Students had their photos taken with the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch, played by Tyler Zimmerman and Andrew Ainsworth, and in the gym, they lined up for cotton candy Truffula Trees, practiced buttering bread like the characters in the "Butter Battle Book," and looked skeptically at deviled eggs with green filling.
The highlight of the evening, however, was reading. Local celebrities from Juneau Police Officer Chris Burke to Legislator Andrea Doll, retired teacher Patty Brown, and high school athletes Kayla Janelle, Matthew Barry, Madison Massey and Darby Brown volunteered their time to share Seuss magic with attentive listeners.
To send some of the excitement home, organizers gave Seuss themed door prizes and let each child pick a book for their own. So, if it's difficult to find your Seuss favorites in the library or the bookstore in the coming weeks, it's not because they are out of fashion. Juneau's children are exploring the classics.