Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash returns Feb. 26

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The Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash returns to Kathryn Winn Primary for the sixth annual community literacy fair.  The event will be held in the school gymnasium, cafeteria, and library/media center on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. The school’s newly renovated library-media center will offer more space for children and families to participate in the various literacy-based activities. The event, which involves over 20 community groups, celebrates the birthday of beloved children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, who was born 107 years ago on March 2.

Carroll County’s Literacy, Education, and Reading Network will again be sponsoring the event for all children through fifth grade.   The group includes a variety of community partners who will set up booths where children will be able to play games, participate in activities, read, and enjoy free birthday cake.

A new event has been added, courtesy of the Carroll County Public Library, which will sponsor a Family Time Entertainment presentation of “Puppet Playtime” at 11 a.m. in the Winn cafeteria.

“This is a very interactive show,” said Leslie Sutherland, Children’s Librarian for the Carroll County Public Library, who arranged the presentation. “It will be a very hands-on puppet experience that the kids will love.”

In addition to the engaging activities, each child who participates will also receive a free book, and the first 200 children will be able to choose between a free t-shirt or bookmark timer.  The timer reminds parents to spend 15 minutes each day reading with or to their children.  The items are funded through a grant from the Carroll County Early Childhood Council.

“The Dr. Seuss event provides families with opportunities to engage in fun language activities with their children,” said Carroll County Head Start Coordinator Pam McNeal, who helps to organize the event.”Language is the key to understanding.”

Lisa Stethen, director of the Carroll County Adult Education and Family Literacy Center, said that organizing the event is smoother this year, but that planners are always looking to improve the Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash each year to keep the activities fresh and interesting.

“We’re trying to stay focused on our purpose of encouraging parents to read to their children and showing everyone how much fun reading and education can be,” said Stethen, who has been a key organizer for the past six years.

Families are encouraged to take their time and enjoy the activities, provide some feedback through a survey, and to continue emphasizing the importance of reading and education in general, said Stethen.

“When parents read to their children and engage in language activities, it helps build children’s vocabulary,” said Pam Williams, Carroll County School’ Elementary Instructional Supervisor, who helped initiate the event as Carroll County Head Start Coordinator.  “Children that have a big vocabulary early in life can get more out of all learning opportunities, including reading.”

Robin Heusman, director of Carroll County’s Family Ties Resource Center, said that an average of over 450 children and adults have attended the last five years, and that hundreds of individuals representing schools, businesses, industries, government agencies, and nonprofit groups work together to make the event possible.  The event is officially sponsored by the Carroll County Parks and Recreation Department, said Stethen, and is also affiliated with the National Education Association’s Read Across America Week.

Students from Carroll County High School and the Carroll County Area Technology Center will do face paintings related to children’s books.  Some students will also dress up as literary characters such as Little Red Riding Hood, Clifford the Dog, and the Cat in the Hat.  They will pose for photographs that can be taken home as a keepsake. Children are encouraged to dress as their favorite book character.

“The Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash provides active, hands-on, and fun learning experiences,” said Williams. “Rich experiences like these help develop language skills, the key to learning.”

Jeff Fremin is director of public relations for Carroll County Public Schools.