Why March 2nd? It’s his birthday! Dr. Seuss was born on March 2, 1904. If he was still living he would be 113 years old! We honor him because he helped create a wacky world of reading for young and not so young kids and the messages in his books are timeless. While he wasn’t truly a “Dr.” he did receive his first honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Dartmouth in 1955.
Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated 44 books for children. 40 of the 44 are written in rhyme! His works range from Green Eggs and Ham to The Cat in the Hat to Hop on Pop. While his books are geared towards children you can always find things we adults need to take heed of. For example, the motivating Oh, the Thinks You Can Think instills in the reader that you are only limited by what you can think. My take on it is that the sky is the limit and the only limits are those you put on yourself. Over the years it has become a favorite for graduation gifts.
The Cat in the Hat was published in 1957. Dr. Seuss was concerned about children not learning to read. Some thought it was those boring Dick and Jane primers. Houghton Mifflin challenged him to write a children’s book with no more than 225 different words from a list of 348. The result was The Cat in the Hat.
Green Eggs and Ham was the result of a challenge issued to Dr. Seuss by publisher Bennett Cerf telling him he bet he couldn’t write a book with 50 or fewer different words. This one went on to be his all-time best selling title.
Dr. Seuss was also known for his politically motivated titles such as The Sneetches, Horton Hears a Who!, and Yertle the Turtle. Man, was he ever talented with the ability to take something serious, put his wacky characters into the mix and rhyme like nobody’s business for a story that spoke volumes on topics such as social injustice and war. Let’s not forget The Lorax. Did you know that in 1989 this book was banned in a California school because it was thought it would put the logging industry in a poor light and turn children against it? You see the community where this school is located depended on the logging industry. As a counter to The Lorax, the logging community published The Truax.
Some people don’t care for Dr. Seuss. Gasp! That can’t be true! But, it is. All that rhyming can begin to wear you down after a while. I will admit to hiding a certain title of his, Fox in Socks, from my own children when they were very little. My daughter reminded me just yesterday that I also hid The Cat in the Hat and refused to read The Cat in the Hat Comes Back at some point in her childhood. Those I do not remember but I distinctly remember sliding Fox in Socks between the couch cushions on at least one occasion. Don’t all parents do that at some point? Full disclosure: I do love Dr. Seuss!!! I am a children’s librarian after all. The kids were just at that read the same thing 5,000 times stage and I had to keep my sanity somehow.
Whether you could take Dr. Seuss or leave him we must admit that he continues to have a definite impact on keeping kids engaged in reading through his rhyme, wacky characters, crazy settings, zany illustrations, and nonsensical way of telling a story. I mean, we still celebrate his birthday! Or maybe it comes down to us just wanting an excuse to dress up in wacky outfits?