National Read across America is a school day that is closest to March 2nd, which is Dr. Seuss’s birthday.
“In any story things happen and characters have motives that are good or bad. So every storyteller is a moralist whether he knows it or not. Children have a strong ethical sense anyway. They want to see virtue rewarded and arrogance or meanness punished. You don’t want to hit them over the head with the moral, of course; you have to work it in sideways. But it has to be there. If the Grinch steals Christmas, . . . he has to bring it back in the end. I must say, though, when I was doing that one I was kind of rooting for the Grinch.” –Dr. Seuss
(Gale) [NOTE: Due to our licensing agreement, access to Gale Biography in Context is restricted to the students, staff, and faculty at Kutztown University.]
Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904. Geisel grew up in Springfield, MA. When he was growing up he did not picture himself becoming a children’s author. He loved to draw and eager and enthusiastic about reading. When Geisel was in high school one of his teachers said, “You will never learn to draw, Theodor. Why don’t you just skip this class for the rest of the term.” (Gale)
After Geisel graduated from high school he went to college at Dartmouth. He became the editor of Jack-o-Lantern, the college humor magazine. He designed the bizarre cartoon animals for that publication. After graduating from Dartmouth he went on to Oxford University, where he obtained his doctorate in English literature. A fellow student named Helen Palmer, at Oxford University encouraged him to pursue cartooning. Geisel took her advice to pursue cartooning and then married her. After they graduated from Oxford, they left England and went back to the United States. He started to sell his drawings to magazines. These magazines included: College Humor, Liberty, Life, and Vanity Fair.
The Standard Oil Company made a name for Geisel as he designed enormous insects with their famous slogan “Quick, Henry! The Flit!”
After receiving over twenty-five rejections, a fellow Dartmouth alumnus took a chance. He used his middle name Seuss for children’s books. “Geisel used his middle name, his mother’s maiden name, for his children’s books, saving his last name for greater, more serious writing.” (Gale Biography in Context) In 1937 he launched a whole new line of children’s books by the name of Dr. Seuss.
In 1957 Geisel released The Cat in the Hat, which was specifically aimed toward beginning readers and How the Grinch Stole Christmas is one of his favorite works. . “Writing children’s books is hard work, a lot harder than most people realize, and that includes most writers of children’s books. And it never gets any easier. I remember thinking that I might be able to dash off The Cat in the Hat in two or three weeks. Actually, it took over a year. You try telling a pretty complicated story using less than two hundred and fifty words! No, don’t, not unless you’re willing to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.” (Gale)
Geisel’s books started to get translated and sell all around the world. Some had been put into television shows as well. People said he was a genius but he said, “If I were a genius, why do I have to sweat so hard at my work? I know my stuff all looks like it was rattled off in twenty-three seconds but every word is a struggle and every sentence is like the pangs of birth.” (Gale)
Some books have been turned into major movies: “The Cat and the Hat”, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”, “The Lorax,” and “Horton Hears a Who.” In addition, there are short animated films for the following titles: “Green Eggs and Ham, How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” and “Horton Hears a Who.”
Dr. Seuss books within the Library:
Also Visit Gale Biography in Context
To find out more about Theodor Seuss Geisel please visit the Rohrbach Library for more books. As always, if you need assistance locating materials, ask a librarian at the Research Help Desk.