Oh the Places You’ll Go…
Because of Reading!
by Mrs. DeEtte Wick
Oh, the Places You’ll Go… Because of Reading!
By Mrs. DeEtte Wick
Lincoln Parish Schools
In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March has become National Reading Month which provides schools across America and Louisiana a chance to celebrate reading. Reading Dr. Seuss’ books has become a rite of passage for children. His rhythm and rhyme have captivated young readers for generations. As I reflect on the works of Dr. Seuss, I cannot help but think about his book, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! This exciting book encourages readers to imagine and dream about the world, and what the future holds. Like this book, reading can transport us anywhere and open doors to new ideas, possibilities, and experiences. Today’s busy world offers many distractions, and reading reduces stress and improves concentration. Reading teaches, reading inspires and reading changes lives.
It is my opinion that people who do not like reading have yet to find the right book. I believe these words, I teach these words, and I live these words. As a fifth grader, I did not like to read. It was boring, and I wanted nothing to do with it. Then, I discovered Avonlea in Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and my world changed. Anne Shirley’s kindred spirit spoke to me. Her creativity, friendships, adventures, and wit transported me to another world and led to the beginning of my love for reading. I want my students to find their book, the one that changes reading from an assignment to joy.
Dystopian novels are always a favorite, as they prompt students to imagine a completely different world, a “what if?” Historical fiction transports students to another time. Fantasy books are perfect for dreamers – students who want to escape to a whole new world. What is most powerful is when students find a character with which they can identify. Realistic fiction can make readers feel seen or known and understand they are not alone. Watching students light up when the right book is in their hands is one of the many highlights of my job. Dr. Seuss wrote, “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax; all you need is a book.” The right book can literally change a person’s life.
Can a book a day keep the doctor away? Quite possibly. Reading each day has been shown to reduce stress, improve sleep, and help with relaxation. Reading is one of the brain’s most complex processes requiring significant attention and focus. When readers focus on a book, they can take a break from the stress of real life. And we all need a break. This escape from stress helps decompress our minds and makes reading a great activity before bed. Turning off the screens and opening a book lets the mind let go of everything else. Consistent time spent reading helps to train the brain to focus, and that focus carries over into other areas of life. Students that struggle with feelings of alienation and loneliness also benefit when they can turn off the stress of life for a while; reading provides this escape. The bottom line? Reading is just what the doctor ordered.
As a teacher, parents often ask me how they can help their children with school. The answer is easy: read. Reading improves comprehension, vocabulary, and writing. When students read books, they are exposed to new and different places, experiences, and ideas. As a student reads, their brains create places to store this information. Whether reading fiction or nonfiction, students are increasing their knowledge capacity. This knowledge can be applied throughout multiple school subjects and improves comprehension of new content. Vocabulary learned in the context of reading makes more sense than words learned in isolation. As a child’s vocabulary grows through reading, they can use those words in their writing and speaking. Reading also helps improve writing. The more students read, the more they are exposed to varying sentence structures, writing styles, and organization. These skills directly correlate to how a student learns to write and improves their writing. It all comes back to reading. Then, there is the question every student wants to ask, “When will I use this in real life?” Reading connects to comprehension, vocabulary, and communication; every job on their dream list requires them to communicate effectively. Reading fundamentally sets children up for the rest of their lives. It’s almost magic!
While schools celebrate reading this month, reading doesn’t begin or end in March. In my classroom, we will read as much as we can all year long. While the benefits of reading seem endless, a child lost in a book is simply a joy, as all the benefits of reading are happening without them even knowing. Dr. Seuss said it best, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go,” – Oh, how exciting it is to watch the places these children go!
-Mrs. DeEtte Wick
Lincoln Parish Schools
Phillips Laboratory School
8th grade English, Language Arts, and Social Studies Teacher
2020-2021 Lincoln Parish Teacher of the Year