Seuss Appeal:  Starts, Keeps Kids Reading

For decades, books by Dr. Seuss have encouraged people of all ages to become life-long readers. Their popularity spans the globe, leaving many aspiring authors of children’s books wondering how they themselves can write such timeless and successful stories. The key to Dr. Seuss’s craft lies in his use of language, universal themes, and accessibility for all ages. His stories continue to show that one can be a successful reader and reading can be fun!

Dr. Seuss did not always want to write for children. As a young adult, he focused on publishing cartoons for adults in publications such as LIFE and The Saturday Evening Post. While his work was mainly criticized, he rejoiced in receiving a child’s request for his autograph, prompting him to rethink for whom he was writing. He had a revelation: children were his target audience.


Early Readers

Youngsters love reading Dr. Seuss’s classics like The Cat in the Hat and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Children in grades pre-K through first grade often gravitate towards these titles which fall into Dr. Seuss’s Beginners Books and Bright & Early Books for Beginning Beginners. Young children prefer these because of their simplicity. Readers are not required to possess a large vocabulary for them to read the stories without guidance, although it helps to have an expert model for fluency and the rhythm of the language when beginning to read. When creating The Cat in the Hat, publishers challenged Seuss to write the story using just over 200 different words! When a child can read an entertaining story like this successfully, he or she will be encouraged to try reading another book for pleasure. Books by Dr. Seuss can also inspire readers to become writers, making up their own rhymes and plots.


Early Inspiration

Dr. Seuss’s use of language and illustrations keep readers entertained. Read a random excerpt from one of his books, and you can surely identify its author – the style is completely unique! As a young boy, Dr. Seuss, or Theodor Seuss Geisel as he was named, loved to play with language. Wordplay and a love for reading were two traits Seuss inherited from his mother, Henrietta Seuss Geisel. The way Seuss uses language is one trait of his writing that readers love. Whether he uses words ironically or makes them up entirely, the effect is surprising and imaginative. His use of language coupled with one-of-a-kind illustrations enhance each story. Doodling was one of Dr. Seuss’s earliest favorite pastimes. As a boy, he often ventured to the zoo nearby his home. This served as a kind of mental playground for his imagination. Other inspiration came from his father, Theodor Geisel, both a tinkerer and inventor. Seuss realized early that what could not be made in real life could be created on paper. Seuss doodled ceaselessly, finding ideas for his books in the random pictures he drew. Children get lost in his artwork, captivated by a world of make-believe. Dr. Seuss’s illustrations not only inspire one to read, but they can also serve as inspiration to doodle for oneself. Whether it be for pleasure or purpose, such as prewriting for a story of one’s own, doodling unlocks the imagination.


A Unique Style

Dr. Seuss perfected his writing style over the course of his career as an author, having written more than sixty books. While teachers of beginning readers use them to instruct students in the basics of reading, those who teach older students use the stories for lessons covering sound devices such as rhyme and alliteration. Aside from this, all students can learn life lessons from many of Dr. Seuss’s books. This factor is one main reason why his stories are loved by people all over the world. Dr. Seuss was gifted with wordplay and artistic abilities, and he was also a genius at expressing universal themes in his work. Take the 1960 classic Green Eggs and Ham, for instance. We can all identify with its main character Sam who insists he does not like something until he gives it a try. Readers can also learn the importance of doing good for others when they read stories like Horton Hears a Who or How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Some of Seuss’s stories also inspire people to be stewards of the environment. The Lorax warns against abusing the natural world and shows readers why it is humanity’s duty to protect the environment. It is a theme that is just as important now as it was when The Lorax was published in 1971.

The works of Dr. Seuss have done a great service to mankind. They help create life-long readers and learners, people who read for knowledge and entertainment. These books are ideal for youngsters developing their cognitive skills as well as for those mature readers practicing critical thinking. The wording is silly and fun, but the messages are wise. From Dr. Seuss’s books, readers take away meaning and leave with a desire to keep reading.