When my daughter, Corrie was in first grade, her teacher decided to use Clifford, the Big Red Dog, as a reading helper. Everything they did was based on Clifford. From their first books, to the stickers they received for books read. The students thrived under Miss Tyler’s unusual interest in the big red dog. Corrie tells me that everyone loved Clifford. And not just in the books, because Miss Tyler had a huge stuffed Clifford. He was like a mascot for the class.

In addition to Clifford, Miss Tyler had all of the Clifford books. It was like a big red dog addiction. Everything they did in class included Clifford. He was a great learning aid, because at that time, and possibly still for that age group, Clifford was the coolest thing out there. We never really know what things can help a child learn, but it is well known that children learn better with toys. I have always liked learning toys for my kids, and I could see how well this strategy had worked well for Corrie.

Corrie tells me that the first book she remembers reading was a Clifford book, and that for Christmas, each student receive a Clifford book as a gift from Miss Tyler. Their entire year centered around Clifford. As rewards for good work, or good behavior, students were given the privilege of being in charge of taking care of Clifford. Corrie says that the students loved Clifford, almost as much as Emily, his owner did.

Time marches on, of course, and Clifford went the way of all childhood heros. I doubt if Corrie has thought about him in years. Her children have grown past the Clifford age, and while they did read those books too, they probably haven’t thought about the big red dog in a long time. Still, when I asked her about a picture I had found of a teacher, her students, and Clifford, all the memories came flooding back for her. Memories of school days gone by…about a simpler time, when life was all about making friends at school, and of course, recess. When I asked her about how the class responded to this different method of teaching, she said, “Oh, we loved Clifford!!”

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