Research – Dr. Seuss


Interesting facts about Dr.Seuss’s biography:

1. If you want to pronounce the name the way his family did, say Zoice, not Soose. Theodor Seuss Geisel — known as “Ted” to family and friends — liked to say that he adopted the name “Dr. Seuss”. Geisel was more interested in telling a good story than he was in telling a true story.

2. Why did he decide to write for children?

Geisel often said that a clause in his contract with Standard Oil (makers of Flit) prohibited him from undertaking many other types of writing, but not from writing children’s books.

However, given his tendency to embellish, there may be other truths he’s avoiding. Geisel wrote his first children’s book in the same year that Helen (his wife) learned she could not have children.

To silence friends who bragged about their own children, Ted liked to boast of the achievements of their imaginary daughter, Chrysanthemum-Pearl.

People often asked Dr. Seuss how he, a childless person, could write so well for children. His standard response: “You make ’em. I’ll amuse ’em.” The question ignores the fact that many great children’s writers had no children of their own: Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Beatrix Potter, Margaret Wise Brown, Crockett Johnson, and Maurice Sendak, to name a few.

3. He and business partner Ralph Warren tried to invent an Infantograph, which promised to show how a couple’s children would look. Although they never quite got it to work, Geisel did write advertising copy for the camera’s expected debut at the World’s Fair: “IF YOU MARRIED THAT GAL YOU’RE WALKING WITH, WHAT WOULD YOUR CHILDREN LOOK LIKE? COME IN AND HAVE YOUR INFANTOGRAPH TAKEN!”

4. No one wanted to publish his first children’s book — an ABC of fanciful creatures, including the long-necked whizzleworp and the green-striped cholmondelet.

5. The Political Seuss – He was worried about the expanding world war. His cartoons make fun of isolationists. They mock the leaders of the Axis powers — Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Hideki Tojo. They oppose fascism. They criticize discrimination against Jews and against African Americans, at a time when such discrimination was both legal and common.

It’s no coincidence that the boy (Dr. Seuss in adolescense) picked on for his ethnicity and his (presumed) religion would grow up to create cartoons that attack prejudice.

6. Horton Hears a Who! (1954)- Seuss’s activist children’s books tell readers that even the smallest, apparently insignificant person has an important role to play. “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” the Whos’ small size is an arbitrary mark of difference — such as race, creed, sex, or nationality.

7. Why did Seuss prefer poetry?

Ted’s mother, Henrietta Seuss, worked in her father’s bakery. He and his brother often went to sleep to the sound of their mother chanting to them “softly, in the way she had learned as she sold pies, ‘Apple, mince, lemon . . . peach, apricot, pineapple . . . blueberry, coconut, custard, and SQUASH!’” He later said that his mother was most responsible “for the rhythms in which I write and the urgency with which I do it.”

8. Seuss, however, is a powerful poet. He’s one of the few to change the language. As his nonsense-poet predecessors did, Seuss invented a variety of animals and plants.

9. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat because he was worried that children were not learning to read. Dr. Seuss did not start writing children’s books with the goal of helping children learn how to read, but he became America’s best-known reading teacher.

10. 1960. But Seuss did not just want to teach children how to read. He also hoped to teach them how to think. In these days of tension and confusion, writers are beginning to realize that books for children have a greater potential for good or evil than any other form of literature on earth.”

11. Seuss wrote books that make people think and imagine. In On Beyond Zebra!, he invented an entirely new alphabet because, as the book’s narrator explains, “In the places I go there are things that I see / That I never could spell if I stopped with the Z. / I’m telling you this ’cause you’re one of my friends. / My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends.”

12. Through the art and poetry of his books, Seuss encourages us to think creatively, participate in society, and do what we can to make it better. As Seuss writes in his final book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990), “You have brains in your head. / You have feet in your shoes. / You can steer yourself / any direction you choose”.

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