2/25/2011 11:05 PM

source dartmouthedu

Next week will mark Theodor Geisel’s 107th birthday.  Geisel’s pen name was Dr. Seuss, author of many children’s books.  He wrote 60 to be exact, among them Green Eggs and Ham, The Sneetches and other Stories, and Fox in Socks.

Geisel was born in Springfield, Massachusetts to German immigrants.  He studied at Dartmouth and was caught violating the prohibition laws by drinking gin with friends.  He was kicked off the college paper by the Dean. Yet he wanted to keep writing for the paper, so he started using the pen name Seuss. 

Encouraged to keep writing he began submitting articles and illustrations to Life, Vanity Fair and The Saturday Evening Post.  During the Great Depression he supported himself and his wife by drawing and writing ad campaigns for General Electric, NBC and Standard Oil. 

It was during an ocean voyage that he was struck by the rhythm of the boat’s engines and inspired to write the poem And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.  The poem was rejected 30 times before being published.

After World War II he went back to writing children’s books after a hiatus to work on government propaganda. He churned out If I Ran the Zoo, Horton Hears a Who, McElligot’s Pool and How the Grinch Stole Christmas among others.

It was discovered sometime in the 1950’s that children were not learning to read. Most thought the offerings were boring. The head of Houghton Mifflin listed 348 words he felt all children should know, and enlisted the help of Dr. Seuss. He asked Seuss to write a book using only 250 of the words on the list.  Seuss, using only 236 of the words, wrote The Cat in The Hat.   It became one of the first beginning reader books that children flocked to. Its vocabulary was simple, repetitive and children loved the story.  The Cat in Hat is still a top selling children’s book, selling 452,258 copies in 2009.

The National Education Association's (NEA) program Read Across America will kick off on March 2, 2011, Dr. Seuss' brithday.  First Lady Michelle Obama will help launch the program along with the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan by reading The Cat in Hat to Washington D.C area school children at the Library of Congress.  The progarm is designed to encourage children and families to read together.

Dr. Seuss died on September 24th 1991 of throat cancer.  Some young friends of mine asked that day, if Dr. Seuss dies do his books die with him?  Thankfully his great works will live on.

Categories: Books Posted by Wendy on 2/25/2011 11:05 PM | Comments (0)


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