How a steady diet of “Green Eggs and Ham” helps kids learn

Theodor Geisel, more widely known as Dr. Seuss, knew what teachers intuitively understand – the brains of young children respond well to rhyming, rhythm and repetition. It’s part of the reason his books have remained so popular so many decades after their release. His creative, simple poems entertain kids and inspire them to continue reading and to develop the literacy skills that are so critical to future learning.

On March 2, students all over the country will mark his birthday during Read Across America Day. It’s a great time to celebrate children’s books, and also for parents to consider how well their own kids are learning to read. Strong reading and comprehension skills are the pathway to all other learning; it’s an ability required for nearly all jobs and will open many doors. Unfortunately, too many youth in our state aren’t reading at their grade level. In fact, fewer than half of Arizona third graders passed the most recent AzMERIT language arts assessment. But teachers and educational leaders all over the state are working to achieve the Arizona Education Progress Meter goal of increasing that to 72 percent by the year 2030.

The education community pays close attention to a child’s reading ability in the third grade because that marker is especially telling. It’s a good indicator of how well students will perform in high school, whether or not they’ll continue on to postsecondary education and even future employment.

But of course, it’s never too early or too late to build literacy skills. Parents who are unsure of where their children stand should talk to their teachers to learn more about how their child is doing and how they can help at home. Children of all ages should read at least 20 minutes every day. And for young children who aren’t in a classroom yet, parents should take every opportunity to read, speak and converse with their kids, whose brains are developing at a rapid rate. Even babies who aren’t verbal yet are absorbing everything they hear, and that’s building the foundation for their future language and reading ability.

Parents can visit the Expect More Arizona website for resources that aid caregivers in understanding what youth of certain ages should be able to do academically. These grade-by-grade outlines provide questions and activities that can support learning at home. Whether a good book transports kids to Who-ville, into the future, under the sea, or the world of biology, reading will set them on a path to continued learning and success in school.

Expect More Arizona is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan education advocacy organization working to ensure every child receives an excellent education every step of the way. For more information visit



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