Happy Birthday, Theodore Geisel! Or: All I Needed to Learn About Life, I Learned from Dr. Seuss.

I’m breaking from my pattern of out and out blog neglect (the formal graduate education end is in sight, I PROMISE) in honor of Dr. Seuss today. Really, if you want proof that children can handle major psychosocial concepts and know how to present them, just take a look at Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss came to life in an attempt to help first graders learn to read. He took a list of words they were expected to know and created our beloved “Cat in the Hat.”  Now, commemorating his birthday, every March 2nd is “Read Across America Day.”  Here are a couple useful links, if you’re interested in this program. They are by no means exhaustive:

http://www.apples4theteacher/holidays/dr-seuss-birthday

http://www.nea.org/readacross

Also, Wikipedia has some very interesting information on the man and the stories.

Dr. Seuss has not only helped the past few generations learn how to read, but also about life. Whether it’s the noble Horton the Elephant or the pernicious Grinch, Seuss-land is full of life lessons. He proved that children could appreciate and read about larger social issues that sometimes befuddle adults (Think of the Sneetches with stars or no stars), and that children should know they matter (A person is a person, no matter how small.- “Horton Hears a Who”). Horton and the Lorax teach kids to stand up for what’s right, because not everyone will. “The Lorax” continued to explain to children the hard truth about environmental concern, while also illustrating the way every action and change affect others.

“Oh, The Places You’ll Go” is so treasured, it practically litters bookstores around graduation time. More importantly, Dr. Seuss provided much needed encouragement to children who may not have received it from other sources. At the same time, he warns us not to get too big for our britches, as it were (Yertle the Turtle with his tower too high and Gertrude McFuzz with her tail feathers- for more info, see “Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories”).

Who can forget the importance of Green Eggs and Ham? Try new things, you might like it. Have an adventure!

Then we come to one of my favourites: Bartholomew and the Oobleck. If you haven’t read it, go read it. Today. Right now. Lessons include: say you’re sorry if you make a mistake, be careful what you wish for, and never give up. You may not be in charge, but that doesn’t mean people don’t depend on you.

Perhaps no character in Seussdom, however, is more dependable than Horton. When Mayzie the lazy bird leaves Horton with her nest to sit on her egg, he sits through all weather and all conditions, repeating the famous Horton words: “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant is faithful, one hundred percent.” Need I say more?

Dr. Seuss took basic poetic principles and simple words and created new worlds that we can hardly do without- we can’t even have Christmas without the Grinch, people. So, here’s a toast to the creator of the Swomee Swans, who taught the world how to read and how to think.