March 2nd. A date that means something to teachers and children's librarians across the country... it's the birthday of the one, the only, Theodor Geisel. You probably know him as "Dr. Seuss". The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop, Fox in Socks, The Lorax, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I could go on, My Many Colored Days, Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!, Gerald McBoing-Boing. There are too many titles to mention! TV movies and film versions for the Grinch Who Stole Christmas and now Horton Hears a Who. The website Seussville has interactive games, activity ideas and information on the life of Geisel and his work... and some pretty catchy background music too! Books he wrote but did not illustrate are under the name of Theo LeSieg (Geisel backwards).
The man's writing was new and I can comfortably make the claim that no one else has matched the depth of his creativity or made as much of an impact. His books open up children's imagination. Oobleck? A Lorax? He made up words. His rhyme scheme is consistent throughout his books (and a great way to introduce young children to poetry!) His stories had a political or social issue underneath all the wonderful imaginative chaos that is a Dr. Seuss story. Not to mention the staying power... what adult can't name a favorite Dr. Seuss book? I'd venture to say that most could recite a line or two as well!
The American Library Association created the Theodor Geisel Award for the best contribution to children's literature for beginning readers, and winners have included the wonderful Not a Box by Antoinette Portis and the amazing Mo Willems' There's a Bird on Your Head! Books that are about imagination, creativity, and getting kids to love to read! The National Education Association hosts Read Across America, celebrated annually on Dr. Seuss' birthday, and encourages birthday parties, events and other celebrations of the author and his work. Yesterday, I hosted a Dr.Seuss Birthday Party/Seussapolooza for 60+ people, dressed as Cat in the Hat (yes!), complete with Birthday cake, oobleck, Cat in the Hat hat craft and a speed reading contest for The Foot Book. We had to turn people away because of staffing/room limitations! Dr. Seuss is big. Lots of memories for adults. Lots of new experiences to wonderful worlds for children! Thank you, Dr. Seuss! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!