Dr. Seuss rocks the cat’s meow

I’ve decided that if I ever grow up to be a writer of kids’ books that I want to be like Dr. Seuss. Because, while his books are for kids, they are chock full of playful jabs. At adults.

Unfortunately, only kids ever caught on to those jabs. When they tried to explain the undertones to adults, the kids were told that they didn’t know what they were talking about because, well, they were just kids, and what do kids know?

There’s an interesting article on CNN right now, stripped from Mental Floss (a wicked-cool magazine full of all sorts of interesting bits of knowledge), listing 10 little-known stories about Dr. Seuss and his writings.

Two points are of particular interest to me, the first perhaps because I work in education. Dr. Seuss wrote Cat in the Hat because he found the Dick and Jane primers to be awfully dull and boring. He thought kids would find his version of what a primer should be more entertaining. I can think of a number of college students who’d be more likely to read their textbooks if they contained prose resembling Dr. Seuss’. After all, don’t we remember information more effectively when we’re able to incorporate rhyming patterns?

Second, Dr. Seuss’ editor bet him that he couldn’t write a book with merely 50 words. Dr. Seuss claimed otherwise and wrote Green Eggs and Ham. The 50 words used include: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

Now that takes skill. Skill + humor? Excellent combination. One that worked well for Dr. Seuss, and one that continues to serve children (and adults) the world around.


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