|Theodor Geisel published his first children's book as Dr. Seuss in 1937.
He became a successful children's book author in the early going, but there wasn't much money in it, and his main income came from the advertising field.
In the mid-1950s, America was in a panic about falling reading scores. Early Readers, those Sally, Dick and Jane books, were being blamed - for being boring!
A 1954 Life Magazine article detailed the decline and called personally upon Geisel to write and illustrate Early Readers that would hold children's interest.
Geisel took up the challenge. With a stingy palette of barely more than 200 Early Reader words, The Cat in the Hat took him about a year and a half to create. The world of children's books has never been the same.
"Horton Hears A Who"
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' (Matthew 25:40)
Dr. Seuss was Jewish, but I read this and felt that it went right along with the lesson in this book.
This is an enchanting story about a great elephant who somehow hears the tiny voices of an entire community on a tiny puff-like flower. He realizes that it is up to him to make sure that no harm comes to the tiny beings on the flower, even though everyone around him refuses to believe that they are there. They call him names, treat him poorly, and even threaten him because of his belief in the beings that no one can see. Sound familiar? This is a great read and has a fantastic lesson associated with it.
“Should I put this speck down?…” Horton thought with alarm.
“If I do, these small persons may come to great harm.
I can’t put it down. And I won’t! After all
A person’s a person. No matter how small.”
--Horton Hears a Who, 1954
Yertle the Turtle - I can't think of a more appropriate story for young children. This book has been banned in several countries (even Canada had toyed with the idea) because it simply and effectively explains why totalitarianism (or even being a bossy friend) seems like fun, but everyone who isn't in charge isn't having any fun and they will eventually fight back! Yertle, the turtle king only seems to have 2 emotions, happy and angry. He is happy when he is getting whatever he wants and he is effectively bullying the other turtles into doing things for him. He gets very angry when one of the turtles questions him and asks that Yertle stop bossing him around. Kids, especially only children, must learn this lesson! Dr Seuss does a great job of explaining why with this story.
"Your majesty, please...I don't like to complain,
But down here below, we are feeling great pain.
I know up on top you are seeing great sights,
But down at the bottom we, too, should have rights."~Mack the Turtle
Gertrude McFuzz - This story explores jealousy and the terrible things that can happen when you aren't just happy with yourself for the way you are! Gertrude decides she wants more tail feathers, like another girl bird she saw. Her single tail feather isn't good enough. So she goes to a doctor who gives her a pill and she way over does it. Once she has a whole bunch of new feathers, she finds she cannot fly at all and is now stuck far away from home. Oh no!
And, finally, when all of the pulling was done,
Gertrude, behind her, again had just one...
That one little feather she had as a starter.
But now that's enough, because now she is smarter.
I'd looked 'round the world and right back to this hill!
And I saw on this hill, since my eyesight's so keen,
The two biggest fools that have ever been seen!
And the fools that I saw were none other than you,
Who seem to have nothing else better to do
Than sit here and argue who's better than who!
How's that for a well-written (and well-deserved) insult!
"Green Eggs and Ham"
This book is just so silly! The rhythms of the rhymes really make this book fun, as well as the funny ways that green eggs and ham could be eaten! The lesson here is awesome, too! This guy just won't give up on trying to have his friend try these green eggs and ham. The idea is to never decide you don't like something until you have tried it. You may be missing out on something pretty great!
Another thing that makes this book so great is that it is a great First Reader for your kids! With the repetitive words and the rhyming, it is a fun book to read for those just starting out.
“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.”
“Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.”
"The Cat in the Hat" AND "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back"
Honestly, what do I have to say about these classics? I always feel so overwhelmed by this Cat when he is tearing everything up. But I guess that is the point! Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in wrong-doing when there is a new person, full of confidence, doing things that you would never have the guts to do alone. These are fun books to read and are full of lessons!
These books were also meant to be early readers! Kids who are learning to read will have a lot of fun learning to read these books.
“And this mess is so big
And so deep and so tall,
We cannot pick it up.
There is no way at all!”
"Oh The Places You'll Go!"
A book all about your child's future! What could be better than to help inspire young children to think big about where their future will take them? The concept is simple, but Dr. Seuss made it silly and fun! This story makes kids think about how big the world is, and that the whole thing is opened up wide for them to go do amazing things! SO awesome!
"You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street."
"Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?"
This one is just plain fun! Read this one with a crowd, it makes it even more silly! You read the silly sound words, then have the kids repeat them. So fun!
"There's a Wocket in my Pocket!"
This is the BEST book ever for teaching a kid to read! There are few words and they all rhyme! Also, the story is fun. What could be better?
The front cover features words for phonics practice! The words get harder as the book goes on so it allows for lots of learning! Good stuff...
Dr. Seuss made a great mark on the world with his wonderful rhyming stories that grow with us. So celebrate his birthday this week by reading some of them to your kids! Have fun :)