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Cat in the Hat Anniversary: I wanted this post to have 236 words. Oops.

By Melissa Summers

I was doing so well keeping up with my Tuesday and Thursday publishing schedule. I created an organizational system so I’m not spending 12 hours trying to decide what to write about. But then my son’s toenail had to be removed and all my money went flying out of my pocket…so I was preoccupied. (COBRA, why must you cost so much?)

The nice thing about The Buzz Off is I can selfishly write about what I’m thinking of at the time (like New Year’s Eve parties with kids) or the things I have to do (get holiday cards in the mail). Selfish, probably. But sometimes these things are also helpful for other people.
catinhat50.jpgThis week I’m using the Buzz Off to highlight Dr. Suess and the Cat in the Hat’s 50th birthday and Read Across America day which is March 2nd. I’m highlighting it because it’s a great literacy campaign, but also because each year my kid’s school sponsors a used book sale to celebrate this event. We have a lot of books in our house. Lovely books, but so many of them it’s hard to really weed through them so they end up shoved on shelves. I always mean to donate some of our books to the sale so the kids can get new ones and so I can weed out some of the clutter in our house for a good cause, All proceeds from the sale are donated to a library in a needy district.

In the 3 years my daughter’s been going to this school, I have always forgotten to donate books. Every single year. First the Buzz Off helps me create nice valentines and now it’s going to make me a responsible mother. Well…in a very convoluted way. Sort of.
The National Education Association started Read Across America as a one day celebration of Dr. Suess’s birthday and now, 10 years later, it’s a year round literacy initiative. This year the highlight of Read Across America is the Cat in the Hat’s 50th birthday and Project 236.
project_236.jpgProject 236 is a literacy initiative inspired by The Cat In The Hat, which Dr Seuss used just 236 words to write. The Cat In The Hat is an important book in children’s literature, not just because it’s really clever, but because it marked a change in children’s literature. At the time children’s literature was somewhat “boring” and “antiseptic”. The Cat In The Hat changed the way kids learned to read and now Random House is using Project 236 to continue literacy in the United States.
From the Dr Seuss site:
“On average, children in middle-income neighborhoods have approximately 13 books per individual child. In contrast, for low-income children, there is estimated to be 1 book for every 300 children.”
happybirthdaycathat.jpgProject 236’s goal is to give books to children who really need them. To accomplish this goal Random House is running a few different programs. For every birthday card you send to the Cat In The Hat, either online or through the mail (see official rules for address), Random House will donate one book to First Book.
firstbook.jpgSending an e-card is pretty easy, but maybe you want to do more. You can donate directly to First Book at their website. A $5 donation provides two new books for a needy child, a $360 donation fills preschooler’s backpacks with their first new books.

At the very least you can read The Cat In The Hat tomorrow, March 2nd at 2:36pm, along with hundreds of elementary school classes. I’ll be in Max’s class, reading and also remembering how much I love children but how great a decision it was to drop that elementary education major. Whew!

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • Laura

    March 1, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    What a fantastic cause.
    Our pediatrician’s office is part of a reading program as well. I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s set up to be an early intervention for those at risk readers. At every well visit ( starting at 6 months old), they give your child an age appropriate book.
    I think that’s pretty cool.

  • pnutsmama

    March 1, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    well that is bizarre! tomorrow we are making our friend’s new baby liam (born yesterday! yay!) some crib bedding for his baby shower gift out of cat in the hat sheets we just got on ebay. his parents are so cool they picked dr seuss as their nursery theme (why am i so pathetically devoid of creativity when it comes to my kids room?) and we wanted to help them out with his room since we know how.
    hey! maybe that could be a new buzz off idea? interesting “themes” for baby or kids rooms? it is so hard for me not to fall into the target trap, etc. i have another idea- ideas for birthday gifts for little kids? also, we seem to have committed ourselves slowly to giving small easter baskets to a few of our friends/family kids. ideas? when did easter become anything more than a candy from your mom (ahem, easter bunny) holiday? wth?
    so back to the reading- thanks for introducing me to the idea of donating for literacy. we love giving books at baby showers and as gifts, and would love to pay it forward. (hey! another idea! favorite books to give/receive based on age! i am on a roll tonight! and merseydotes just had a post on this!)

  • Isabel Kallman

    Isabel Kallman

    March 2, 2007 at 12:38 am

    shhh. put it in a private email. don’t give Meredith Viera any more ideas for her blog on ivillage. don’t you know she stalks melissa? i think it’s a girl crush.
    thanks for contributing.

  • pnutsmama

    March 2, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    i will do that, and apologies all around, i am the last one who wants to help out MV (you heard me, meredith…).
    you go right ahead and delete that comment and i will copy and paste away to ms. summers. thanks!

  • melissaS

    March 2, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    We’re just kidding pnutsmama.
    But if MV does a nursery themed blog….You heard it here first.

  • Isabel Kallman

    Isabel Kallman

    March 3, 2007 at 12:03 am

    Yep, just kiddin’.
    We wouldn’t want to delete anything. we approve all comments before they are posted. appreciate you thinking of us.

  • Melanie

    March 3, 2007 at 12:24 am

    Well, I’m late and didn’t read the Cat in the Hat today, but we were reading at 2:36, so that counts, right? I think my son might be overprivileged since there is only one of him and at least 300 children’s books in our house. Is that grammatically correct? Anyway, books. Yay! I should go donate some $$ now.

  • Melanie

    March 3, 2007 at 12:29 am

    Oh, I forgot to add – if you go to
    they donate books for every time you click on the button (once per day per person). Free giving!

  • Michelle

    March 3, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Wish I’d known about this post before posting my list of child literacy tips–this is a great cause.

  • pnutsmama

    March 3, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    if MV does un-cheezy themes for kids rooms i will seriously start my own blog just to harass her every day about that. i really will. even if she is melissaS’ BFF.
    back to the literacy theme- that 1 book for every 300 low-income kids has really struck a nerve with me. i know i am a bleeding liberal- but how on earth can a child overcome those odds? what on earth can we expect from children who don’t get a fair shot at reading? thank you for bringing this whole issue to light as well as an effective way of changing literacy rates in america.

  • Amy

    March 4, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Melissa ~
    I have been reading your blog for a couple of months now, and wanted to thank you for posting the Buzz Off about Dr. Seuss and books. If I can get my freakin’ act together, I plan on adding this to my much neglected blog.
    Thanks for the laughs and insights.
    P.S. – Loved the momtini – will have one in your honor tomorrow night.

  • Megan

    March 16, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    …and every child can get free access books at the local public library… and access to computers, including Internet access, and homework help, and children’s story hours and other children’s programming.
    uh…go libraries!