Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

There were a lot of things to look forward to every summer I went to visit my grandparents. But one thing that I absolutely had to do before I went to sleep (even though we would arrive very, very late) was to thumb through all of the Dr. Seuss books on the bookshelf and pick out a few to read under the covers.

Dr. Seuss's books have remained classics these past fifty-plus years, not just because we pass them down from generation to generation, but because Seuss has contributed something few people have to the world of children's literature. Seuss's children's books, "encouraged readers to maintain a sense of wonder and adventure, to use their imaginations and be willing to participate in the strange experiences life has to offer" (taken from page 360 of Charles D. Cohen's The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss, copyright 2004). Seuss wrote with no bounds, rhyming and alliterating words you never thought possible. Characters so quirky and true (at heart), you just might have to check and see if fox wearing socks is sitting next to you.

One of our children's booksellers, Shoshana, is our live-in Seuss expert. It was the great doctor himself that "made [her] realize how much [she] loved a good, bouncing, preferably funny rhyme and helped turn [her] toward creating the same kind of writing [her]self." I've seen her writing and I swear she thinks in anapestic tetrameter (she openly blames Seuss for that one).

Beneath that Seussian non-sensical fabulous inspiration and fun, there are actually important lessons to be learned:

stars or no stars, there’s no need to discriminate. [The Sneetches]
people and creatures need trees. Don’t eliminate! [The Lorax]
everyone’s scared, even empty green pants, [What Was I Scared Of?]
and the world’s full of places, so go! Take a chance! [Oh! The Places You'll Go]
an elephant’s faithful, and you can be, too. [Horton Hatches an Egg]
though life can be wacky, you’ll make your way through. [Wacky Wednesday]
“the more that you read, the more things you will know.
the more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” [One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish]

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

Happy 106th birthday Dr. Seuss! And Theodor Geisel. And Theo LeSeig. (He went by many names.)

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