"I do not eat green eggs and ham.
"I do not like them, Sam-I-am."
Claire Record and the other first-grade teachers at Martin Luther King Elementary School read these lines from the classic children's book "Green Eggs and Ham" to their students Wednesday morning before they joined in the merriment celebrating the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, the author better known as Dr. Seuss.
In the hallway outside the cafeteria, a long line of wiggly first-graders stood on one foot, then the other, awaiting their turn to have a tall, striped "Cat in the Hat" chapeau placed on their heads before stepping into the cacophony.
Did you know?
• Dr. Seuss’ real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel.
• Geisel was born March 2, 1904.
• The book “Green Eggs and Ham” was first published in 1960.
• “Green Eggs and Ham” is the fourth best-selling English-language children’s book of all time, according to Publishers Weekly.
A mountain of green eggs awaited the kids. Each lunch tray also contained a ham slice, a banana, rolled-up fruit leather and orange juice. Almost every child drank the juice and ate the fruit and fruit leather. Many ate the ham.
Some nibbled the neon-green eggs. But only the very bravest of the brave finished their green eggs and ham.
Missing two front teeth, Angelina Phillips, who stated her age as 71/2, took a bite of green eggs and gave a thumbs up.
"It's awesome, except for the fat meat," she said, pointing to chunk of ham fat on her plate. "I lost six teeth already. For this one, I think I got $2," she said, showing a gap in her smile.
"I haven't tried 'em yet," said Orion Murphy-Hall, 7, gesturing toward the green eggs and ham on his plate.
Wearing a green-and-white-striped Cat hat and a Spider-Man wristband, Orion sipped his orange juice and nibbled his fruit leather.
Sitting next to Orion, Glenda Hiller, 7, had cleaned her plate. It was her birthday.
"They taste good," she told him. "Like regular eggs."
With Glenda's encouragement, Orion brought a forkful of green eggs to his lips, chewed and swallowed.
"They're pretty good," he reported. Turning to Glenda, Orion said, "It's a good breakfast for your birthday, huh?"
"I ate them all!" said Jovanni Hamlin, 7, who sat at the same lunch table with the rest of Record's class.
12,825 eggs for 48 schools
It's an annual tradition started 18 years ago by Mark Matthias, owner of Beaches Restaurant & Bar to mark the birthday of Dr. Seuss and the kickoff of Read Across America Week. The celebration encourages parents to be volunteer readers in their children's schools.
Beaches employees and school volunteers prepared and served the green-eggs-and-ham breakfast to 7,500 first-graders and their parents in Vancouver, Evergreen and Ridgefield district schools plus one school in Washougal. They also assist with a Battle Ground school. By week's end, 12,825 eggs will have been dyed with green food coloring and scrambled for first-graders in 48 schools around Clark County.
Each student received a striped hat and a copy of "Green Eggs and Ham," provided by each district's nonprofit foundation.
As Claire Record and the other first-grade teachers and students lined up to return to their classrooms, Principal Janell Ephraim wiped remnants of green eggs from the cafeteria tables.
No more green eggs until this time next year.