On March 2nd Dr. Seuss would celebrate his 115th birthday if he were still alive. His legacy of delightful children’s books lives on in schools who celebrate Read Across America. Seuss had a nonsensical notion that reading should be fun and forever changed the way children’s books were written.
Dr. Seuss books invite delight and foster imagination with their rhyming text, made up words and whimsical illustrations so elementary schools across the country celebrate his birthday by reading them. For example, In Happy Birthday to You! the Birthday Bird wakes up the reader with. “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you…”
“In Katroo, every year, on the day you were born/
They start the day right in the bright early morn/
When the Birthday Honk-Honker hikes high up Mt. Zorn/
and lets loose a big blast on the big Birthday Horn./
And the voice of the horn calls out loud as it plays:/
“Wake up! For today is your Day of all Days!”
Whether you enjoy Suess’s learn to read series or his longer more philosophical pieces, there’s a Suess book that everyone can love. To open one of Seuss’s books is to expect the unexpected. For example, “I heard a strange peep, and I took a quick look and you know what I saw with the look that I took? A bird laid an egg on my arithmetic book.”
Since his death, Dr. Seuss continues to inspire generations with a new series of nonfiction books that mimic his style. The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library for ages five to eight is a collection that is still being added to with simple science books that help kids not only learn to read, but read to learn.
Books about polliwogs and mapping are written in rhyme and feature characters from The Cat in the Hat including Thing One and Thing Two plus Sally and her brother Nick who all introduce basic science concepts. The Cat in the Hat’s Science bookshelf has lots of fun titles to check out.
The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That is a PBS Kids special. Twenty minute episodes can be viewed online at Seussville. Numerous games for primary grade students that augment the learning in the shows can be played to learn new skills. The Cat in The Hat Can Map This or That is a game that allows students to map their room and place furniture in it.
In one of his classics, the star belly Sneetches book, Seuss delivers a message about discrimination. “I’m happy to say that the Sneetches got really quite smart on that Day, The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches, and no kind of Sneetches is the best on the beaches.”
In his book about Yertle the Turtle, Seuss talks about upholding justice and freedom. “I know, up on top you see sights, but down on the bottom we, too, should have rights…And the turtles, of course…all the turtles are free, As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.”
Whether he was sharing his philosophy of life or just using as few of words as possible to complete the tale, Dr. Seuss spun yarns that still invoke smiles and make reading fun. The day of his birthday there’s lots you could do…wear a red and white striped hat like the Cat in the Hat or bake a cupcake to celebrate.
One edible birthday treat is making Cat in The Hat cupcakes. Pour cupcake batter into the tin and place an ice cream cone upside down in it so when it bakes it ends up with a jaunty tilt. Then have students frost the Cat in The Hat’s head as well as his red and white striped tilty hat.
Pick your favorite Dr. Seuss book and drop in on an elementary classroom to read to them. “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”
Kristi McCracken, author of two children’s books and a long time teacher in the South Valley, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.