Dr Seuss Day!

Good morning guys! How are you all doing? I know there are a lot of frightening things happening right now, especially to do with Russia and the heartbreaking scenes that keep emerging in Ukraine (which I’m praying for everyone affected), and I’m not ignoring the sadness and upset that it has caused and still is causing, I just want to bring a bit of happiness (even if it is just for a moment) to your day with today’s post.

Dr. Seuss Day is held annually on March 2nd to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss. But it’s not just to celebrate his birthday, it’s also to celebrate his legacy and his work! Dr. Seuss’ strange ideas and wacky stories appealed to everyone from kids to adults, and are still remembered to this day. Celebrate the day by reading one of his many books, dressing up as different characters from his books, or continue reading to learn about the man himself who brought these popular and well-loved characters to life.

Friday, 3/3, 10 AM-12 PM, Dr. Seuss's Birthday Party - River Forest Public  Library

Biography

Born on the 2nd of March in 1904, Theodor Seuss Geisel, commonly known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, was an American children’s author, political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, and animator. He is known for his work writing and illustrating more than 60 books under the pen name Dr. Seuss. His work includes many of the most popular children’s books of all time, selling over 600 million copies and being translated into more than 20 languages by the time of his death.

Geisel was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Henrietta (née Seuss) and Theodor Robert Geisel. His father managed the family brewery and was later appointed to supervise Springfield’s public park system after the brewery closed because of Prohibition. The family was of German descent, and Geisel and his sister Marnie experienced anti-German prejudice from other children following the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

Geisel attended Dartmouth College, graduating in 1925. While at Dartmouth, he was caught drinking gin with nine friends in his room. At the time, the possession and consumption of alcohol were illegal under Prohibition laws, which remained in place between 1920 and 1933. As a result of this infraction, Dean Craven Laycock insisted that Geisel resigns from all extracurricular activities, including the Jack-O-Lantern. To continue working on the magazine without the administration’s knowledge, Geisel began signing his work with the pen name “Seuss”. He was encouraged in his writing by professor of rhetoric W. Benfield Pressey, whom he described as his “big inspiration for writing” at Dartmouth. Upon graduating from Dartmouth, he entered Lincoln College, Oxford, intending to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in English literature. At Oxford, he met his future wife Helen Palmer, who encouraged him to give up becoming an English teacher in favor of pursuing drawing as a career.

Geisel accepted a job as writer and illustrator at the humor magazine Judge, and he felt financially stable enough to marry Palmer. His first cartoon for Judge appeared on October 22, 1927, and Geisel and Palmer were married on November 29. Geisel’s first work signed “Dr. Seuss” was published in Judge about six months after he started working there. In early 1928, one of Geisel’s cartoons for Judge mentioned Flit, a common bug spray at the time manufactured by Standard Oil of New Jersey. Geisel’s first Flit ad appeared on May 31, 1928, and the campaign continued sporadically until 1941. The campaign’s catchphrase “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” became a part of popular culture. It spawned a song and was used as a punch line for comedians such as Fred Allen and Jack Benny. As Geisel gained notoriety for the Flit campaign, his work was in demand and began to appear regularly in magazines such as Life, Liberty, and Vanity Fair. His success with the Flit campaign led to more advertising work, including for companies like the Ford Motor Company, NBC Radio Network, and Holly Sugar. In 1936, Geisel and his wife were returning from an ocean voyage to Europe when the rhythm of the ship’s engines inspired the poem that became his first children’s book: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Geisel wrote four more books before the US entered World War II.

After World War II, Geisel and his wife moved to the La Jolla community of San Diego, California, where he returned to writing children’s books. He published most of his books through Random House in North America and William Collins, Sons (later HarperCollins) internationally. He wrote many, including favourites such as; Horton Hears a Who, The Cat In The Hat, How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, and Green Eggs and Ham. In May 1954, Life published a report on illiteracy among school children which concluded that children were not learning to read because their books were boring. William Ellsworth Spaulding the director of the education division at Houghton Mifflin compiled a list of 348 words that he felt were important for first-graders to recognize. He asked Geisel to cut the list to 250 words and to write a book using only those words. Nine months later, Geisel completed The Cat in the Hat, using 236 of the words given to him. Geisel went on to write many other children’s books, both in his new simplified-vocabulary manner and in his older, more elaborate style.

Geisel was awarded an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) from Whittier College in 1980. He also received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal from the professional children’s librarians in 1980, recognizing his “substantial and lasting contributions to children’s literature”. At the time, it was awarded every five years. Geisel died of cancer on September 24, 1991, at his home in the La Jolla community of San Diego at the age of 87. His ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean. On December 1, 1995, four years after his death, University of California, San Diego’s University Library Building was renamed Geisel Library in honor of Geisel and Audrey for the generous contributions that they made to the library and their devotion to improving literacy.

Facts

  • He wrote under several different names. His real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel and he used several pennames, including: Theo LeSieg (“Geisel” spelled backwards), Rossetta Stone, Theophrastus Seuss, and (of course) Dr. Seuss.
  • “Zoyce” (rhymes with voice) is the German pronunciation of Seuss, which makes sense when you consider his German heritage. But, most people pronounced his name as “Soose”, which he liked because it “evoked a figure advantageous for an author of children’s books to be associated with—Mother Goose” so he adopted the pronunciation.
  • Seuss added ‘Dr.’ to his name as consolation to his father, who had hoped he would practice medicine.
  • Dr. Seuss has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at the 6500 block of Hollywood Boulevard.
  • During World War II, he enlisted in the Army and wrote some humorous instructional cartoons featuring a hapless Army recruit called Private Snafu.
  • Dr. Seuss comes by his love of verse from his mother, who used to make up rhymes based on pie flavors for him when he was a child.
  • At one point, Dr. Seuss’ father ran the local zoo, which is when Dr. Seuss began sketching animals.
  • Seuss met his first wife, Helen Palmer, while they attended Oxford University in 1926. He was working on a M.A. in English, but he never completed his studies.
  • He and Helen were unable to have children, but he sometimes pretended humorously to have offspring, with names like Chrysanthemum-Pearl, Wickersham, Miggles and Boo-boo.
  • After Helen died in 1967, Seuss remarried a year later. His second wife, Audrey Stone Dimond, had never heard of Seuss and assumed he was a medical doctor.
Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) with wife Audrey Geisel (nee Dimond)
  • His debut book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” (1937) was rejected 27 times before it finally went to the printing press.
  • Green Eggs and Ham was written on a $50 bet when his publisher challenged him to write a book using 50 words or less.
  • Horton Hears a Who! was inspired by Seuss’s time in Japan. It was published in 1954. Seuss dedicated the book to Mitsugi Nakamura, the dean of Doshisha University in Kyoto, who helped him while he toured schools across the country interviewing children.
  • Seuss joins the ranks of William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens as an author who has created words that have become part of our everyday discussions. The first written instance of the word “nerd” appears in Seuss’s book If I Ran the Zoo. In it, the main character says that if he were in charge of the zoo, he would “sail to Ka-Troo / And bring back an IT-KUTCH, a PREEP, and a PROO, A NERKLE, a NERD, and SEERSUCKER, too!”
  • ‘Oh, the places you’ll go!’ was his last book which was published during his lifetime, and is his bestselling book.
  • Judge, the magazine that launched Seuss’s career, sometimes couldn’t pay their staff. They would give out free samples of soda, shaving cream and nail clippers instead.
  • After publishing The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 1957, Dr. Seuss began receiving thousands of fan letters—so many that the Random House mailroom began weighing rather than counting the letters. In one year, they reported that Dr. Seuss received 9,267 pounds of mail.
  • Dr. Seuss was voted “Least Likely to Succeed” by his classmates at Dartmouth College
  • The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield, Massachusetts, features sculptures of him and many of his characters.
  • In 2017, the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum opened next to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in the Springfield Museums Quadrangle.
  • Seuss had a licence plate that says “GRINCH”.
  • When Dr. Seuss suffered from writer’s block, he would go to a secret closet filled with hats and wear them until he found inspiration.
  • Dr Seuss is honoured by his alma mater, Dartmouth College. So much so that they regularly serve green eggs and ham to freshmen as a mark of honour to the author.
  • Seuss was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1984, the first person to win for writing children’s books.
  • Celebrities who’ve voiced or acted as characters in TV shows and movies based on Dr. Seuss books and stories include Boris Karloff and Jim Carrey (How the Grinch Stole Christmas), Mike Myers (The Cat in the Hat), Danny DeVito (The Lorax) and Jim Carrey, again (Horton Hears a Who!).

Top Dr. Seuss Books:

You probably grew up with at least one Dr. Seuss book, which is filled with fantastical characters and settings from his vibrant imagination. Many adults have a sentimental connection to their favorite Seuss books. Many of his stories feature timeless themes like kindness, saying sorry, and respecting the environment. To this day, the titles below are consistently among the best-selling Dr. Seuss books and are well-reviewed for all the reasons you think they would be. And beyond that, there’s the simplest reason of all: These books have proven to be enjoyable for countless kids, and they’re still great reads for any young ones in your life today. So without further ado, here are some of the best Dr. Seuss books you can still buy and read for kids and grown-ups alike.

  1. Green Eggs and Ham (1960)
  2. How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957)
  3. The Cat In The Hat (1957)
  4. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (1990)
  5. The Lorax (1971)
  6. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (1960)
  7. Horton Hears A Who! (1954)
  8. There’s A Wocket In My Pocket! (1974)
  9. Fox In Socks (1965)
  10. Hop On Pop (1963)

It is safe to say that Dr Seuss is a cultural phenomenon, with the legacy of Geisel’s work stretching far beyond his own life, inspiring kids and adults alike to keep reading not just his books, but books in general! This inspiration to read is what Dr Seuss Day is all about, and it captures the essence of the man himself, even this many years after his passing!

Thank you for coming to my blog and reading today’s post, enjoy the rest of your week, and I shall see you next time! 😃

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