This Wednesday is the birthday of the great Dr. Seuss, and Seussville is gearing up for the red-letter day. The legendary children’s author would turn 107 if he were still around. And he would likely celebrate the occasion by composing a silly rhyme filled with the perfect blend of real words and made-up ones.
But it’s more than just his wacky rhymes that made Dr. Seuss the icon that he is. It’s also the appeal those rhymes have had upon generations and generations of young readers. There has never been anyone more influential for literary little ones than the great doctor. And there likely never will be. But why?
I think it boils down to three things.
- Everyone loves to rhyme. It’s true. And not only that, but everyone also thinks they can rhyme. But few attempt to do so with concision and meter in mind, two things that made Dr. Seuss’ rhymes nothing short of brilliant. He never wasted a word — his tales continue to develop and as you narrate those developments to your kids, the words practically read themselves. There’s never any stumbling or altering of the cadence, nor is there any manipulation of the words to make them flow or rhyme better. There’s no need to thanks to the good doctor.
- Simplicity: Did you know that The Cat in the Hat has but 50 words in it? Think about that for a second. Fifty words make up that classic tale. No wonder it’s been devoured by young audiences for decades and decades. Not only is it a fun rhyme, but it’s a simple one which contains very few words — words that every young reader can easily master.
- Imagination: It’s hard to believe that something as basic and as simple as poems composed easy-to-understand words can be so elaborate when it comes to imagination. But that’s exactly what Dr. Seuss delivers in his epic tales. Like Horton Hears a Who. The title character, an elephant, is splashing in a pool in the jungle of Nool when he hears a speck of dust that turns out to be a tiny planet where Who-ville is located? That’s about as imaginative as it gets.
As Dr. Seuss’ birthday approaches, many will celebrate in different ways. Me? I wrote a poem to my wife about her pregnancy in the format Green Eggs and Ham as a way of paying homage to Dr. Seuss. Only instead of Sam-I-am, the vexing character is Dad-I-be who pesters my poor wife, not about green eggs and ham, but about her pregnancy.
So, is it fun, your pregnancy?
Why, no, it’s not fun, Dad-I-be.
It’s not so fun, my pregnancy.
So how will you celebrate? And more importantly, how will your kids celebrate? Will they write a Seussian poem? Or perhaps engage in a Dr. Seuss read-a-thon?
If you want to come up with great ideas for your own celebration, I encourage you to visit the website Seussville, which is gearing up for the big day. There, you’ll be able to do everything from learn more about the man and his work to creating your own “Who” character.
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss. Thanks for all the contributions you’ve made to the countless young readers who will always love you. No matter how old they grow.