There is a holiday to celebrate everything these days. From pancakes to Leif Erikson, no person, place, or thing goes unrecognized in today’s world. And while pancakes are a welcomed part of mornings and life in general, there are some things that we really should be celebrating.
Thankfully, in 1998 the National Education Association (NEA) decided it was time we all get together and show our appreciation for one of the most important pastimes, reading.
Read Across America day is celebrated on March 1st or 2nd which would make today, you guessed it, Happy Read Across America day!
Now, you might ask yourself, how does one celebrate Read Across America day? Good question. Traditionally, today’s holiday encourages children and young adults to read and their teachers and guardians to provide them with the resources they need to be avid readers. But just because you’re old enough to vote doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate reading today too. As it just so happens, Reading Across America day coincides with the birth of the one and only, Dr. Seuss. I know, who knew your Friday was going to be this awesome!
In honor of Read Across America day, today’s Friday 5 is dedicated to one of the most meticulous and loved children’s authors, the father of the Cat in the Hat, Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel.
Here are 5 things you might not know about a few of Dr. Seuss’ books:
Green Eggs and Ham was actually a bet. After writing The Cat in the Hat using only 236 words. Seuss’ publisher bet him $50 that he couldn’t write an equally loved book with rich characters and clear content only using 50 words. He then proceed to write “Green Eggs and Ham” only to have it be more popular than “The Cat in the Hat”. His publisher never dared to challenge Seuss’ writing again.
Speaking of The Cat in the Hat, which is probably Dr. Seuss’ most famous book, it began with an article written by William Spaulding of Houghton Mifflin in 1955. The article discussed the reading patterns and lack there of, in small children. Always up for a challenge, Seuss took on Spaulding. Nine months later, the Cat was born.
Horton Hears a Who was written with a sense of political urgency. During World War II, Dr. Seuss, like many others had strong feelings toward the opposing side. Initially, he distrusted the Japanese after the attack of Pearl Harbor and even supported the use of interment camps. After the war ended, the author visited Japan. Concerned with the state of ruin the country faced Seuss was inspired to write, “Horton Hears a Who”. Sending a message to children and adults alike to remember the needs of all people, big and small.
Yertle the Turtle continued to voice Seuss’ strong political opinions. Yertle, the main character was based on Adolf Hitler. For those of you who are not familiar with the story, Yertle is king of the pond and as king he demands a better view of his kingdom. He orders the other turtles to arrange themselves one on top of the other so he can seat himself on top of them. As he commands the turtles to assemble themselves again and again his eyes catch a glimpse of the moon. Astonished at the audacity of the moon to sit above him, Yertle crashes down thus releasing the rest of the turtles. A lesson in totalitarianism long before kids can even spell dictator.
Lastly, and in my opinion the coolest thing I didn’t know about Dr. Seuss’ writing, If I Ran the Zoo is the first written account of the word ‘nerd’. Published in 1950, the line reads: “And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo. And bring ban IT-KUTCH, a PREEP and a PROO, a NERKLE, a NERD, and a SEERSUCKER, too!” Making Dr. Seuss the father of books kids want to read and ‘nerds’ everywhere.