Dr. Seuss is one of the world’s most well known and beloved authors of all time. Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2nd 1904 in Springfield Massachusetts. He became the editor of the Jack-O-Lantern at Dartmouth College, and it was at Dartmouth that the alias Seuss was established. Theodor lost his privileges at the Jack-O-Lantern when he and his friends were caught throwing a drinking party (which was against school policy as well as the Prohibition law), and he was only able to publish his writings using the pseudonym (his middle name and his mother’s maiden name) “Seuss”.
Dr. Seuss later attended Oxford where he met his first wife, Helen Palmer. Rather than completing his education, Dr. Seuss toured Europe and returned to the United States to pursue a career as a cartoonist. He created advertising campaigns for Standard Oil for more than 15 years, but The Saturday Evening Post published some of his early work. With the onset of World War II Dr. Seuss began to draw political cartoons for PM magazine and helped create training movies for the US Army where he began to learn about animation.
Dr. Seuss’ break into children’s literature came when the Viking Press offered him a contract to illustrate Boners; the book was not a success, but the illustrations received a lot of attention. Dr. Seuss’ first book And To Think That I Saw It In Mulberry Street was a challenge to get published, but after 27 rejections the Vangard Press made history. The book was influenced by his many childhood memories of Springfield. The Sneetches also features a truck driven by Sylvester McMonkey McBean which is thought to be the Knox tractor in Springfield. As a German immigrant Dr. Seuss faced financial and social challenges living through World War I and Prohibition; however, his family persevered and Ted enjoyed a happy childhood.
The book which defined Dr. Seuss’ career, The Cat in the Hat, was a brilliant story which used only 225 new reader words in rhyme. There have been roughly 11 million prints of this book in 12 different languages and it is believed that 1 in 4 American children will receive a Dr. Suess book as their first book. Dr. Seuss never had children, but he was quoted once cleverly saying, “You have ‘em; I’ll entertain ‘em”. He lovingly credits his mother, Henrietta, for his ability and desire to create the catchy rhymes for which he is so well known. He recalls his mother chanting rhymes to sooth him throughout his childhood.
Helen, Seuss’ first wife, passed away in 1967 and he married Audrey Stone. Audrey is the current president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises and passionately preserves his legacy. Theodor Seuss Geisel passed away on September 24th 1991. At the time of his death Dr. Seuss had written and illustrated 44 children’s books translated in more than 15 different languages with over 200 million copies sold, the favorites include: If I Ran the Zoo, Green Eggs and Ham, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Fox in Sox, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Over his lifetime Dr. Seuss received 2 Academy awards, 2 Emmy awards, a Peabody award, and the Pulitzer Prize.
Read Across America was established in 1997 to celebrate the birthday of our beloved Dr. Seuss and to promote a celebration of reading among children. The National Education Association or NEA sponsors events throughout our schools and communities which promote and inspire reading in the youth of our nation. Some teachers and students will wear red and white striped hats while others will eat green eggs and ham; most importantly they will all be reading! As we celebrate the 107th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Seuss, we remember how important literacy is to mankind.