The Dr. Seuss Syndrome: The Joy and Pain of Books

I wish I knew back then what I know now about books and evidence-based approaches to reading instruction and intervention.

Teach My Kid to Read has been calling on libraries throughout New York State to spread awareness of dyslexia so that librarians and parents can help more kids with dyslexia and without, learn to read. Our strategy for the pilot year is to set up book displays of decodable and dyslexia-themed books. Our goal is to create awareness of tools that help all kids learn to read. Once children can decode they can read anything! Spending time at so many libraries surrounded by books brings up poignant memories of what books represent.

Dr. Seuss carries a lot of meaning in our world!

I Love Books

In second-grade, I hid behind the bookshelves to avoid going to math or the other subjects that were less interesting to me. I just wanted to read. I love books. This love of books would be instilled in my child, and they would grow up choosing to read above all other activities. I would want them to go out and play, get some fresh air, but they would be hiding in their room with their nose in a book. They would read so much that they would shun athletics and, and hang out with their bookish friends, but it would be OK, and we would all understand and joke about how cool it was that she reads so much.

Why Don’t Books Love Us?

I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a Dr. Seuss syndrome, but those of us with kids with reading and learning differences develop a very complicated relationship with books, and even the term “reading.” When our daughter was tiny, and people would ask us what they could bring her as a gift, my reply was always a book. She can never have too many books, but she can have too much stuff. Years later, many of these books taunt me. Most recently, we gave most of her books away. What remains is a small stash of her favorites and a few that I’ll never be ready to give away. Books are no longer universally our friend, but they are not a foe.

Dr. Seuss is the Ol’ Stand-By

Of the few books that remain, many are Dr. Seuss. These venerable Dr. Seuss books have gone on school trips where they say no electronics, only books. I dread those rules just like I dreaded those instances before our daughter could decode, and someone would hand her a tomb of a book. This past summer, I spoke with another Mom who informed me that our kids could bring electronics on school trips if they have an IEP that allows them to use audiobooks. I’m not sure if that would make a difference as most kids want to fit in.

When it came time to pack for the school trip, I tried to be supportive and encouraging of whatever book she chose to pack. Something from one of the teen series? The Lunch Lady graphic novels?  She also has a few age-appropriate books she has purchased at book fairs over the years. I’m ashamed to say I was rooting for those books, but I know they are props. At least for now.

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