“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read Wth My Eyes Shut!
March 2nd marks what would have been the 107th birthday of one of America’s most beloved writers. Yet, he was much more than an author and an illustrator. He was the man whose work caused educators to break the rules and begin using picture books to instruct children in early reading. His works provided families with opportunities to incorporate tongue-numbing fun into bedtime stories. He made curly-q characters, home-invading cats, and starbelly sneetches as much a part of childhood as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, made reading fun. As a college student, one can incorporate the many traits of Dr. Suess into their paper to make their writing more enjoyable with more imagination.
Celebrating Dr. Seuss
According to Judith and Neil Morgan, authors of Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel (August, 1996), Theodor Seuss Geisel began his career at Dartmouth College in the 1920’s Prohibition Era. As the editor and staff cartoonist for the school’s humor magazine, Geisel followed a traditional educational path for his career. However, he, too, had a mischievous side. In fact, Geisel was punished during his senior year in college for drinking gin with his buddies. This ultimately led him to create the now-famous pseudonym, Dr. Seuss, so he could covertly continue to submit cartoons to the school’s publication during his academic probation. His college years were then followed by a life as a professional cartoonist, drawing politically charged cartoons for a variety of magazines and newspapers, before he made the jump to author and illustrator of children’s books.
Dr. Seuss books have since become known worldwide and many papers have been published regarding his works. American families have found the fun, rhythmic rhymes and curly-q illustrations provide reading entertainment and easy learning tools for children of all ages. His works have been analyzed and picked apart by professionals since the early fifties, and such professionals have touted his books as excellent teaching tools for teaching pre-reading and early reading skills.
Families can celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday along with the NEA by pulling out their favorite Seuss books and having read-alongs. Younger children can dance to the rhythms of the rhymes and help parents who stumble over the wording of these fast-paced stories. Parents can read parts of the story and let their child fill in the words from memory, or by reading them aloud. Families can discuss the themes of the books and how they pertain to children’s school lives. One California mother used “The Cat in The Hat” to explain to her children why they were expected to wait for their parents before responding to a knock on their front door. The best commemoration is helping your children learn to love reading and that can be done just by enthusiastically sharing a book with a child and making that moment special time between a parent and child.
While the best ideas come from yours and your child’s imaginations, many suggestions for character costumes, sweet treats and more can be found on the NEA’s website, along with many other pages dedicated to Dr. Suess and his books. Taking a hint from the man himself, Dr. Seuss once said, “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”