Today marks Theodor Seuss Geisel’s birthday. Most of us know him by his pen name, Dr. Seuss. His books hold a special place in the heart of millions and children around the country will gather in their classrooms and libraries this week to celebrate his birthday as they participate in National Read Across America Day, a reading initiative created by the National Education Association.
What most people do not know is that while Geisel tried to write entertaining books for children, using imaginative characters, rhyme, and frequent use of trisyllabic meter, his books also expressed his views on a number of social and political issues of his time. From environmentalist and anti-consumerism (The Lorax), our focus on materialism (How the Grinch Stole Christmas) and the senselessness of prejudice and discrimination (The Sneeches), Geisel tried to not only draw his readers and listeners using rhyming, but also to get a point across through his stories.
Granted, children may not immediately understand the morals of his stories as they are heavy topics for a 3 or 4 year old to grasp. Nonetheless, I find it interesting that half a century later we’re still reading his books to our children and I wonder how much has really changed?
My brother gave me Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss when I was pregnant with my first child (fitting for a Traveling Mom, no?). It’s a book I’ve enjoyed reading to my children along with many other Dr. Seuss books over the years. I sensed the meanings behind the books and I think that’s part of the reason I enjoyed reading them to my children and giving them as gifts to new parents and children on their birthdays.
Reading Dr. Seuss’s books strikes a chord with me that’s more than just an entertaining read and something that will hold their attention…I’m hoping that part of the message will resonate with them as they grow older and see the injustices in the world. And, more importantly, feel compelled to make the world a better place.
Do you have a favorite Dr. Seuss book? If so, which one?
Megy Karydes is the founder of World Shoppe, a fair trade importing business that works directly with artisans in South Africa and Pakistan. She always brings home a book or gift from where she’s visited for her children. You can follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date with our antics!