Who Is Ted Geisel?
You may actually know him better as Dr. Seuss, born on March 2nd, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He became a wonderful children’s author, writing such well-known books as The Cat in the Hat and Horton Hears A Who! that would inspire generations of children to read.
I have the honor to know his stepdaughter Leagrey Dimond, whom I lovingly call my honorary Granny. Our friendship sparked long before I even knew that Ted was her step-pop, and even then, it never really crossed my mind to ask about him. Still, I knew all that I needed to know, that he was a wonderful, loving step-pop.
People are often curious about Dr. Seuss. Though there have been many books written posthumously about him, I’ve learned and felt more joy reading his published works. His work has been under scrutiny in recent years, with some questioning whether his books and other works should be labeled as racist. To a modern audience perhaps, but as a historian, I also view these instances as a result of the time period he lived in. As the years moved forward, it’s clear he changed with the times.
Granny emphasizes that “Ted was a man of the times, and he changed with the times. And in many ways, he was ahead of times.”
For example, The Lorax is about protecting the environment.
Even more, she went on to describe how “He helped raise me absolutely hate free. I never heard a word or an expression. There was never a tone of voice. I never saw any raised eyebrows. Nothing. So I put tremendous thoughts by that.”
As a librarian, I see reading his books and viewing his other work as an opportunity to discuss those time periods in order to learn from them.
Granny has always told people that “If you want to know Ted, he’s right there in the books that were published during his lifetime. Not the books published after his lifetime. The books he published while he was alive.”
So to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday, read his books.
Granny says “It’s all there. Who he is, it’s in those books. They’re kind, they’re smart and they’re fun. Now that’s who he is.”
Here are some great books by Dr. Seuss that you may not have read:
Read Across America
Another way to celebrate is through Read Across Americaopens a new window (RAA), “an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading” on Dr. Seuss's birthday, March 2nd from the National Education Associationopens a new window.
Read Across America not only celebrates by sharing books and characters by Dr. Seuss but it also encourages children to read books by diverse authors with diverse characters. It celebrates a Nation of Diverse Readers, where more than ever before we’re seeing authors and books with characters of all backgrounds.
Here are some books from their Read Across America 2018-19 Calendaropens a new window:
How will you celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday? Let us know below!