Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!
Tomorrow, March 2, 2014, is the 110th birthday of celebrated children's author Theodore Geisel, better known to everyone as Dr. Seuss. The good doctor is no longer with us, of course (he passed away in 1991), but he's left us with a nearly unprecedented body of work that includes some of the most playful and imaginative books for children ever written.
As a parent, I suppose the most obvious difference between Dr. Seuss books and a lot of other children's books—especially books for early readers and small children—is that the Seuss books are usually as fun for adults to read as they are for kids to listen to. There are some books on the kids' bookshelf that we simply dread to read (I'm not going to name names, but Dora the Explorer figures highly in a few), but the Dr. Seuss books are not among them. Furthermore, Dr. Seuss' "Beginner Books " are some of the first books for beginning readers that are really fun and exciting to read, teaching important concepts and skills while entertaining and delighting. Fun with Dick and Jane? Bah! Bring on The Cat in the Hat!
Even a deceptively simple little book like The Cat in the Hat is filled with enough delightfully warped humor, tongue-twisting rhymes, whimsical illustrations, and anarchic fun (inside the house, no less) that there's no wonder why it's a classic over 50 years since its original publication. What's even more amazing is that the book only includes 236 different words. It's one of our favorites to read, and was the title wherein I had my Dr. Seuss epiphany—when I realized that his books were really something special, and that I wasn't burned out on the book even though I was reading it for the third time that evening (this was back when my kids were in their "repetition is good—read it over again and again and again…" phase).
So take some time out this weekend to remember Dr. Seuss and what a cruddy place childhood and parenthood would be without him and his works. In fact, the National Education Association has declared Monday, March 3 Read Across America Day, in honor of Ted Geisel's birthday. Whether the The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax(make sure you read it before you go see the movie version that was released today), Green Eggs and Ham, or Oh, the Places You'll Go! is your favorite, take a moment today to read a title or two with your kids.
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