For those who don’t know, Dr Seuss is the pen name of Theodor Seuss Geisel. He was born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. His grandparents were German immigrants. He died on September 24, 1991, at 87 year old. That dash in between his birth and death dates was filled with imagination and whimsy. It’s probably nearly impossible to find someone who hasn’t read The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas or Horton Hears a Who.
Dr. Seuss was part of both our daughter’s reading library when they were growing up. I think he even was part of my reading library as well! Marvin K Mooney Will You Go Now was the first book Peanut read completely on her own. Peanut, Twix and I have made green eggs and ham. Peanut’s fourth-grade class made oobleck as a Dr. Seuss science project. Oobleck is a substance that can behave like a solid or a liquid.
Dr. Seuss made reading fun. His whimsical characters and made-up rhyming words simply could not be viewed as boring or rote learning. Six of his books rank among the top 20 bestselling children’s books of all time. Quite simply, his books are infectious!
Dr. Seuss wasn’t always an author of children’s books. In 1943, as Theodor Seuss Geisel, he joined the Army and landed in the animation department of the 1st Motion Picture Unit, of the Army Signal Corps. While here, he developed a series of more than 400 political cartoons called the Private Snafu cartoon series. Always political and sometimes risqué, the cartoons were only intended to be seen by members of the military. He left the military in 1946 and entered the world of children’s books. In 1954 he penned The Cat in the Hat in response to an article in Life magazine that claimed illiteracy was caused by children being bored with books. The rest is history.
But as beloved as Dr. Seuss is to some, he’s the latest casualty of the cancel culture. In the last few years, there’s a push to discredit the good doctor by labeling his work as having racial undertones. Many of his political cartoons depicted Hitler and the Japanese in an unfavorable light. Earlier cartoons are viewed as racist but later in life, just like so many people, he expressed regret for the offensive content in his earlier work. A 2019 report claimed some his books “feature animal or non-human characters that transmit Orientalist, anti-Black, and White supremacist messaging through allegories and symbolism.”
Seriously? Evidently, they missed the part where Theodore was considered, in many cases, a progressive who routinely wove political and social messaging into his stories. Horton Hears a Who is all about focusing on the powerless and addresses issues of bullying, conformity and judgmentalism. Yertle the Turtle addresses issues about how all creatures should be free. The Sneetches has clear lessons of anti-discrimination and anti-racism inspired from the yellow Star of David and the Holocaust.
And let’s not forget The Lorax with its message about the interconnectedness of all living and non-living elements functioning as one unit. The impact to the environmental is told from a simplistic view that shows conflict between natural resources and man-made production and teaches lessons about sustainability.
But I suppose there are people who simply cannot help themselves….they have to be offended by something and politicize everything. And even though our president didn’t acknowledge Dr. Seuss in his proclamation for Read Across America Day, I’m sure the rest of the country will continue this tradition of honoring the birthday of one amazing author who has enticed generations to enjoy reading!
Today is the day I wish I once again had “littles” in my house. We’d spend the day reading Dr. Seuss and giggling about his outlandish characters and words. With so much darkness in our world today, it’s almost impossible to hold on to the childlike wonder of Dr. Seuss. But, that is exactly why we need to do it!
Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. So, love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said it’d be easy, they just promised it would be worth it. ~Dr. Seuss