Library Corner: Celebrate Dr. Seuss
March 3, 2019
Around the country, many educators in schools and libraries celebrate March 2 as National Read Across America Day in conjunction with Dr. Seuss's birthday.
Do a quick Google search on Great American poets and chances are, you won't find Theodore Seuss Geisel included, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a child in America who hasn't held one of his books and fondly fumbled through a Seussian limerick or two.
While his initial intent may have been to write the "great American novel," Geisel obtained his degree from Dartmouth and then left his MA program at Oxford when he recognized that doodles and drawings were his love.
As a cartoonist in an advertising career, the truth behind why Geisel started writing children books is a bit of mystery. Perhaps it was his advertising contract that prevented him from writing other genres, perhaps it was a challenge to do better for kids than the unengaging primers, or maybe it was his great imagination and love of creativity that took him down this road.
A descendent of German immigrants, in college during the Prohibition, an avid anti-isolationist, and a witness to environment destruction and nuclear proliferation, Geisel – under the pen name of Dr. Seuss – pulled from his life experiences. He used his writing to advocate for social justice ("Yertle the Turtle," "Horton Hears a Who!" and "The Sneetches") and environmentalism ("The Butter Battle Book" and "The Lorax").
Dr. Seuss recognized that his role as a children's author was not just to help children engage with fun and appealing pictures and nonsense words. In 1960, he wrote, "Children's reading and children's thinking are the rock-bottom base upon which this country will rise. Or not rise. In these days of tension and confusion, writers are beginning to realize that books for children have a greater potential for good or evil than any other form of literature on earth."
Dr. Seuss's final message to children is simple in words but complex in meaning. "We can…and we've got to…do better than this."
Looking for some fun suggestions on how to celebrate National Read Across America Day? Try some of these ideas from suessville.com (c. Penguin Random House LLC).
Visit your local Grand County library for a wide selection of Dr. Seuss books to enjoy and philosophize or other wonderful books to take you away.
Hold a Dr. Seuss Spa Day with "The Foot Book" coupled with a peppermint tea bag/liquid soap footbath or "I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!" followed by cold cucumber slices on closed eyes while reflecting on the illustrations.
Play with words by doing some tongue twisters and reading "Fox in Socks!" Make up some nonsense words (nerd first recorded in "If I Ran the Zoo").
Combine National Love Your Pet Day with Dr. Seuss's imaginative animals by making some "Pawfully Good Dog Biscuits"
Correction regarding GCLD Adult Virtual Book Club: Wanting the thrill of discussion but not the monthly commitment or being told what to read? Try the GCLD Adult Virtual Book Club. It's digital through posting taking place on Facebook and meets quarterly. Each participant reads a book of one's own choice in a selected genre. Request to join the Facebook conversation through GCLD Adult Virtual Book Club. The next meeting is May 6 in Kremmling at 6pm or May 8 at 6pm in Hot Sulphur Springs. The current genre – Books Made into Movies.
Polly Gallagher is the director of public services at the Grand County Library District.