How to Celebrate Dr. Seuss's Birthday
Dr. Seuss' birthday is a great chance to share books with your children
Mark this big day on your calendars! March 2 is the birthday of Theodore Geisel, known worldwide to millions of children as the beloved Dr. Seuss. In his long career, Geisel wrote over sixty books for children under three different pseudonyms: in addition to his Seuss byline, he was also known as Theo LeSieg (for books illustrated by other people) and in one case as Rosetta Stone. Although known primarily for his children's books, Geisel was also a political cartoonist , and filmmaker, creating army training films used during WWII. Even now, thirteen years after his death, Geisel's books remain immensely popular and his birthday is celebrated each year through a literacy campaign called Read Across America. Read on for some suggestions on how you can turn Dr Seuss' birthday celebration into a literacy celebration.
Best Books By Dr. Seuss
The most obvious way to celebrate Dr. Seuss' life and work, of course, is to share his books together. These are some of the most notable:
- And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street - Written in 1937, this is the story of an imaginative boy named Marco who wants to tell his father an exaggerated tale of all the things he saw while walking home. This was Geisel's first book for children; it was rejected by dozens of publishers before being picked up by Vanguard Press.
- The Cat in the Hat - Arguably his most famous book, this extraordinary easy reader was developed as a project intended to combat the problem of childhood illiteracy. In 1947 Life Magazine wrote an article suggesting that children were not learning to read because they did not like the dull books they were given. Geisel's publisher put together a list of first-grade sight words and asked him to turn it into an entertaining story for children. This was the wildly successful result, as an oversized feline visits two children during a rainstorm and turns their lives upside down.
- McElligot's Pool - This 1947 story, one of only three written or illustrated by Geisel ever to be recognized as a Caldecott Honor Book, brings back Marco. This time, the dreamer is imagining all the wonderful fish that he might catch in his neighbor's small, polluted pond.
- The Lorax - Speaking of pollution... this politically charged story from 1971 introduces the reader to the Lorax, an odd creature who protests in fury as a greedy developer comes into his forest and harvests all the truffula trees, driving away the animals and destroying the environment. A quick piece of trivia: In the 2012 film version features a young hero named Ted. The girl he romances in the movie is named Audrey; that was also the name of Geisel's second wife, who was involved in some of the creative development for the film.
- Hop on Pop - This very simple book, published in 1963, presents some very basic phonics skills in an entertaining way. It is ideal for children just beginning to learn how to read.
Visit the Seussville Website
Random House has created a delightful interactive website ideal for those wishing to explore the world of Dr. Seuss and his many characters and other creations. Seussville offers many entertaining activities for the whole family, including:
- An interactive bibliography of all his books (searchable by recommended age, main character, and other categories.)
- Biographical information about Geisel himself, with an interactive timeline presenting major events in his life in kid-friendly language.
- Video games, including "The Sneetch Beach Relay."
- A searchable picture database showing every character from every book.
- You can even create your own Who!
Attend a Read Across America Event
In classrooms and libraries across the country, teachers and others who work with children are busy planning activities for Read Across America, the National Education Association's annual tribute to Dr. Seuss. Check with community leaders in your area to see what's being planned. Attend story time at your local library.
Watch a Great Movie Inspired by Dr. Seuss
Many of Dr. Seuss' most popular books have been made into children's movies. In addition to being entertaining, watching one of these movies after reading the book may be an opportunity to work on critical thinking skills. When the movie is over, ask your child the following questions: Was the movie like the book? How were they the same? Did they change the ending? Did they create new characters in the movie? Which did you like better?
Some of the Dr. Seuss books made into movies include:
- Horton Hears a Who
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- The Cat in the Hat
- The Lorax
For a rarer treat, see if you can find The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, a 1953 musical fantasy about a young boy who hates his piano teacher. Although it did not receive good reviews at the time,this has developed a cult following in recent years.