BY BARB BERGGOETZ
If attendance in previous years is any indication, on Saturday, March 4, about 500 preschool- and elementary-age children and their families will converge on the Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) to see beloved Dr. Seuss characters come alive. The occasion is Seusspicious Behavior, which celebrates the birthday of the famed author of more than 40 children’s books.
This year, Bloomington High School North advanced acting class students will offer four 20-minute performances based on the stories “Yertle the Turtle” and “Gertrude McFuzz” during the free annual event, scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m. Other activities include games and crafts designed to highlight the importance of reading.
Francesca Sobrer, Bloomington North theater program director and drama teacher, says for her students the event is a challenging way to provide live theater to an appreciative young audience. “It’s one of their favorite things to do,” she says. “The young kids just love them.”
She says the 24 students do all of the work preparing for the performances. Her job is to remind them that the plays need to include movement, music, and most of the dialog from the books. Sobrer says the plays are a wonderful experience because students learn how to put shows together on a small budget.
“I’m always impressed with the ingenuous things they come up with,” she says. Producing the plays, which students have performed for eight years at MCPL, shows them they can create fantastic performances using their imaginations and minimal props, Sobrer adds.
The event helps raise awareness of the importance of reading, exposes children to an important author, and provides activities that engage children and families, says Christina Jones, MCPL community engagement librarian. City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department and WTIU collaborate with the library to provide additional programming, such as face painting and the opportunity to dress up in character costumes.
“Furthering literacy in the community is an important part of what we do,” says Jones. “We’re interested in reaching out to community members in novel ways and drawing out people who might not otherwise come to the library.”
MCPL has put on Seusspicious Behavior for about 15 years as part of the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day. It celebrates the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, who died in 1991. For more information, visit monroe.lib.in.us.