Dr. Seuss's Rhyme and Reason
His name says "doctor" but Dr. Seuss isn't really a doctor. His real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel and he was born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
His father and grandfather were brewmasters in Springfield and were very successful. They faced some anger from people during World War I because they were immigrants from Germany. There were also threats of Prohibition, which would ruin their brewery business. Geisel gives credit to his mother for his rhyming abilities. When he and his sister Marnie were young, she would chant rhymes to them to soothe them to sleep.
Geisel attended Dartmouth College and was editor-in-chief of the university's humor magazine. During this time, he got into trouble for throwing a party and was asked to step down as head of the magazine. He did, but he continued to submit work and signed it "Seuss".
After Dartmouth, Geisel went on to Oxford to study literature. It was there that he met Helen Palmer, who convinced him to pursue a career in art. In 1927, they married and went to the United States. In the US, Geisel provided funny articles and cartoons to newspapers and magazines. He drew advertisements for General Electric and Standard Oil. In 1942, he began drawing posters for the War Production Board. He joined the army during World War II and worked for the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. The movies produced by this company were primarily training films. His film, Design for Death, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1947.
When the war was over, Geisel began to write books for children under the name Dr. Seuss. Life magazine, in 1954, reported that illiteracy was a huge issue for children in schools. Kids were not reading because they thought the books they had to choose from were boring. Dr. Seuss worked with his publisher to determine the 250 most important words for kids to learn. He used 220 of these to write The Cat in the Hat in 1950. Using 50 words, he created Green Eggs and Ham. Both of these books were a challenge to write with so few word options, but they have become standards for children learning to read.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Seuss wrote 48 books. Most of these books were for children: Horton Hatches the Egg, Yertle the Turtle, Fox in Socks, and more. Some of his books were directed at adults: You're Only Old Once! and Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Some of Dr. Seuss's books were made into television shows and movies. Two of his creations were adapted into television series that aired on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.
Dr. Seuss died in 1991, but his words live on. Whether we remember him best by thinking of Marvin K. Mooney or Daisy-Head Mayzie, Dr. Seuss played a huge role in our early literacy and will continue to do so for many children all over the world.