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By Senator Mike Crapo

The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.    

            -Dr. Seuss

Theodore Seuss Geisel, known better by millions as "Dr. Seuss," was the son of German Americans. Geisel attended Dartmouth College where he served as editor of the humor magazine, and it was at Dartmouth where he began to use the name "Seuss" on illustrations and articles. He briefly attended Oxford University in England and then toured Europe. Upon returning to the U.S., he worked as a cartoonist and spent 15 years of his early career creating advertising campaigns for Standard Oil. He wanted to serve his country in World War II, but was too old for military service. He instead worked with the signal corps of the U.S. Army, creating training videos featuring "Private Snafu." 


The publication of his first book, "And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street," was a testament to Geisel's tenacious spirit-he submitted it to publishers 27 times before it was finally accepted. 


"The Cat in the Hat," arguably his most well-known book, was the result of a request from publisher Houghton Mifflin to write a children's primer using only 223 words-thus, the birth of the mischievous top-hat wearing cat that everyone now identifies with Dr. Seuss. To honor Geisel's legacy, March 3, 2008, has been designated "Read Across America Day" by the National Education Association (NEA). More than 45 million readers will participate in this year's event, now in its 11 th year. Dr. Seuss's legacy highlights the importance of literacy to our society-inspiring a love of reading at an early age can open doors to experience, achievement and a greater appreciation and understanding of our world.


Idaho educators know the importance of literacy and reading. They work hard to help Idaho students improve their reading skills at young ages: According to the most recently completed National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), Idaho students at the 4 th and 8 th grade levels read above the national average and reading abilities for those same age groups have increased from 1992 levels. 


Developing good reading habits and a love for reading in children begins with parents reading to their kids from a young age. Reading ability improves when parents work with caring and creative teachers during elementary and middle school to further develop a child's grasp of grammar and comprehension, and it culminates in the inspiration of teens to seek out opportunities to enrich their own worlds through reading across multiple disciplines. 


Idaho has a number of resources that assist teachers, parents and students in their pursuit of reading and the achievement of literacy. The National Writing Project, which I've supported here in Congress, aims to improve student achievement by enhancing the teaching of writing in the nation's schools. It has project sites at Boise State University and the University of Idaho. The Idaho Commission for Libraries supports a number of reading programs and serves as a clearinghouse and resource for activities at Idaho libraries. I've also been involved in "First Book ", a national program that brings books to economically-disadvantaged Idaho children, since 2003. 


These, and programs like the NEA's Dr. Seuss-inspired "Read Across America Day," help us work together as parents and educators to give the gifts of literacy and a love of reading to Idaho students young and old. Take time to honor Dr. Seuss's legacy on March 3, and read a good book, perhaps with your child or young student-you never know the places you'll go!