By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 02, 2017 at 11:02 AM

Theodor Geisel, who we all know better as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904, and today – in his honor – we celebrate Read Across America Day.

It’s the perfect salute to a man who dedicated his life to creating works that made children love to read and that – unlike most other authors – created works that adults loved to read, too.

Libraries, schools, community centers and other venues around the country will host events in celebration of reading and of books.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver kicked off the day’s festivities at 8:30 this morning in a special event at Escuela Vieau, at 823 S. 4th St., in Walker’s Point, where the school community created a "Seuss Central" with decorated hallways, classrooms and doors.

(PHOTO: Courtesy of Dannette Justus/Siefert Elementary)

But the real magic happens as more than 250 volunteers from across the city head to dozens of Milwaukee Public Schools to join in the celebration by reading to local children. This writer was invited to read with kids in two classrooms at Green Bay Avenue School.

Even if you can’t make it today – it’s short notice, I know – please don’t let the lesson of Read Across America Day fade, or go unheeded. Reading is the most fundamental skill for students of all ages. Without it, how can one effectively learn math or science or history or most anything else that’s contained in books?

A love of reading, and a love of books – whether on paper or rendered via zeroes and ones – is key to creating successful academic careers and life-long learners. It opens new horizons, new vistas and new worlds, and it helps us understand others.

It is also our opportunity to push aside the politics and the myths and see for ourselves what is going on in our public schools. It is our chance to get to know the people charged with teaching our children.

(PHOTO: Courtesy of Dannette Justus/Siefert Elementary)

Most important, it is our chance to look America’s future in the eyes – to tell our children that they matter to us, that they are worth the effort to carve out some time in our day for them. That we WANT to carve out some time in our day for them.

If you’ve never walked into a school and sat down to read with a group of Milwaukee kids, you’re missing out, because there is no better feeling. Sure, there will be the self-satisfaction of doing a good deed, but much more moving is the experience itself. The kids will smile, they will be excited, they will be eager to tell you about themselves. They will jostle for your attention.

At a read-a-thon at Siefert Elementary last November, the kids I was paired with were so excited that they wouldn’t even let me read. They wanted to show me how well they could read, so they took turns reading to me.

They will make you feel like a superstar. But they’re the real superstars. You’re just there to let them know it.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.