Author’s works inspire early reading, imagination

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This week, Baker University Student Education Association members celebrated the 105th birthday of Dr. Seuss with the annual Read Across America campaign which took place at the Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center.

The festivities were to honor this author's contributions to the world of children's literature. <br/>Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, went by other pen names such as Theo LeSieg. The name most readers identify with the author is Seuss, which he used because it was his middle name and also his mother's maiden name.Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, went by other pen names such as Theo LeSieg. The name most readers identify with the author is Seuss, which he used because it was his middle name and also his mother's maiden name.
Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, went by other pen names such as Theo LeSieg. The name most readers identify with the author is Seuss, which he used because it was his middle name and also his mother’s maiden name.

Combining his dual talents as an illustrator and writer, Seuss published his first book, “And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” in 1937.

Dr. Seuss received acclaimed notoriety for his book “The Cat in the Hat,” which was published in 1957.

Assistant Professor of Education Carolyn Doolittle read Dr. Seuss books as a child.

She said her favorite Seuss book is “Horton Hatches the Egg.”

She likes a story about personal sacrifice even when the task is difficult, Doolittle said.

“I believe Dr. Seuss is a reason I have such an admiration for children’s literature,” she said. “They are the kind of books that are predictable and fun.”

Doolittle said not all of Dr. Seuss’ works were written for children.

He published a book, “The Seven Lady Godivas,” with illustrations of naked women.

One of Seuss’ other non-children’s books is “You’re Only Old Once.”

It is clearly written for the geriatrics audience and is about how our bodies fall apart when we get old, Doolittle said.

Doolittle said many of Seuss’ works for children have deeper meanings.

“The Butter Battle Book” was written during the 1980s while America was in the midst of the arms race.

Doolittle said Seuss received a lot of criticism for this book because it obviously was anti-war and anti-arms. His books often have symbolic meanings. 

“‘The Lorax’ was written and published as a warning about the dangers of deforestation,” Doolittle said.

Doolittle said Seuss books are engaging and readable, as Seuss really challenged himself to use only 200 words while writing his beginner books.

Before Seuss, beginning readers didn’t have a lot of options, Doolittle said.  

“Everyone knows when they’re listening to a Dr. Seuss book,” she said. “It just has that sing-song rhythm.”

Junior Emily Beye said Dr. Seuss’ style is matchless and he has a very specific voice in his stories.

“‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish’ is the first book I ever read by myself,” Beye said.

Beye is an elementary education and Spanish major. She plans to use Dr. Seuss books with her future students, especially with Spanish-speaking students.

Beye said the rhyming words make it easier for them to learn to read in English.

Beye said she likes the rhymes in his books, but she also appreciates the messages in stories such as “The Lorax.”

She said she didn’t recognize the messages in Seuss’ stories until she reread them in college.

“His books are fun for kids, and they are something adults can read and enjoy, too,” Beye said.

Dr. Seuss’ books continue to live on in the hearts and on the shelves of many readers, young and old.

During his career, Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated about 44 children’s books, which have been translated into 15 languages.

Junior Hillary Farmer said she liked the way he used non-sensical words and gave them meaning.

Farmer said her favorite book is “Yertle the Turtle.”

“That book was my dad’s favorite, and he used to read it to us all the time,” Farmer said.

As an elementary education major, Farmer said she definitely plans to use Dr. Seuss in her classroom.

She said she will use his literature to teach her students poetry and use him as a comparison when she challenges them to create their own works.

“(Seuss) is part of American literature and his style is very distinctive,” Farmer said. “Not too many authors can take strange words and make them into a story.”