Theodor Seuss Geissel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904. In his lifetime, Seuss authored more than 46 Children's books that are characterized by their vivid, imaginative characters and catchy meter patterns and rhyme schemes. His works are known for being engaging to young audiences and early readers, and have introduced many generations to reading over the years. Characters such as the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, and the Lorax have become iconic figures in Children's Literature and in popular culture overall.
In honor of his birthday, here are 5 interesting facts that you might not have known about Dr. Seuss.
1. Dr. Seuss was not a real doctor.
He originally pursued a Phd. in English, but he never completed it.
2. Green Eggs and Ham was written on a bet.
His publisher, Bennett Cerf, bet him that he could not write a book in 50 unique words or less. The entire book contains only 50 different words, and as a result, its repetition and consistent meter make it ideal for beginning readers.
3. Dr. Seuss wrote allegorical children's books long before it was cool.
All of Dr. Seuss's books have some sort of moral or message behind the rhymes and lively illustrations. Sometimes the message is about picky eaters or recognizing the true meaning of Christmas, but other times the moral is political. The Lorax is an allegory for sustainable development, a response to the environmental awareness movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The CGI film adaptation of The Lorax was released during a resurgence of this movement through the “Go Green” initiative in response to the effects of climate change. Making it onto a few banned and challenged book lists following its release in 1984, The Butter Battle Book tells the story of the arms race during the Cold War Era with an emphasis on nuclear weapons and the concept of “mutually assured destruction.” A satirical piece, the book equates the Cold War conflict to two sides who are warring over the correct way to butter toast. In the book Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, the titular character represents Adolf Hitler as he rules over a pond and later takes over the surrounding area, mirroring Hitler’s rule over Germany and his subsequent invasion of the surrounding European countries.
4. The Grinch character was based on Dr. Seuss himself.
According to a Redbook Magazine article in 1957, Dr. Seuss created the Grinch for his classic Christmas story in order to examine and hopefully reclaim the magic of the season that he had lost in adulthood.
5. The book If I ran the Zoo is credited as including the first modern printed usage of the word “nerd.”
The book is contained in the line, “And then, just to show them, I'll sail to Ka-Troo / And Bring Back an It-Kutch, a Preep, and a Proo, / A Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too!" Like Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll before him, Dr. Seuss was no stranger to inventing words on a whim.