Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From Dr. Seuss

I have a vivid memory from when I was four of looking at this book and watching the letters all come together. All of a sudden they weren’t just abstract symbols, they were concrete sounds that made words, and sentences – and sense. They made sense, all at once.

The story was King Looie Katz by Dr. Seuss. And reading was just the first gift he gave me.

Since today is his birthday (He would be 108 is he were still alive) I thought I’d celebrate by sharing a few of the other gifts Dr. Seuss gave me over the years.

happy birthday dr seuss

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

From King Looie Katz I learned to carry my own tail, and to expect others to do the same.

From The Zax I learned that being too stubborn is self-defeating and that a small compromise can allow everyone to move forward.

From The Sneetches I learned that in the end it doesn’t matter who has stars upon thars. Behind all the superficial crap, we’re all the best sneetches on the beaches. (High school being the one exception – but high school is short, and kids would do well to remember that.)

From Horton Hears a Who I learned that a person’s a person, no matter how small. (Or how different)

From Bartholomew and the Oobleck I learned to appreciate what I have, and not to trust chanting wizards.

From How the Grinch Stole Christmas I learned that the holidays are about friendship and family. Oh, and how to turn my basset hound into a basselope.

Grinch Basselope

The Grinch Started It.

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! taught me about the amazing world of books, and all the wonderful things I’d one day find inside them, but only if I kept my eyes (and mind) open.

And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street showed me that I was not the only natural-born tall-tale-teller. There were other bards out there.

Green Eggs and Ham taught me that it was less painful to try new things than listen to a fuzzy monster spout annoying rhymes at you all day long.

thing one and thing two

Sure they make messes bigger, but they help clean them up too.

From The Cat in the Hat I learned that if you’re prone to making big messes in the name of fun, it’s a good idea to keep some helpers around for when it comes time to clean up.

On Beyond Zebra showed me that language is supposed to be fun and world expanding.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! taught me that life was what I made it – exciting, dangerous, fulfilling, or terribly boring and dull. I could make it great, or I could sit and wait, and wait, and wait…

lorax scolding

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.

I learned from The Lorax that people are basically greedy, and that kids know more than we give them credit for, and that we really should pay more attention to the environment – it’s a limited resource.

And last, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! reminded me that I was always free to dream, to think, to explore and that no one could ever take my imagination away.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss. Thanks for everything!

*What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book? And what did he teach you about life? Answer in the comments!*



Filed under Books, Kids

6 responses to “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From Dr. Seuss

  1. Rogue428

    My favorite was always “Green Eggs and Ham”. Things are never as serious as you might think they are…

    Case in point, not exactly an original Seuss, but cleverly inspired…

    You’re welcome.

  2. The Sneetches are as deep as it gets. I read Oh, the Places You’ll Go when stuck in the waiting game myself–and cried along with it when I finally got out. And McElligot’s Pool has a depth of imagination from which I hope to always keep drinking. Happy birthday, Theodore!

    • thinkbannedthoughts

      Yes, I’ve always loved McElligot’s Pool – it’s one that I don’t have on my shelves for some reason. Might have to remedy that.

  3. Bee

    The Sneetches had a significant impact on me as a kid, too. A movie was made of the book at some point, and I remember watching it in grade school a couple of times – I’m sure they were showing it to us as a reminder to be nice to each other, but of course we just thought, “Cool, Dr. Seuss movies at school!” and absorbed the messages subconsciously.

    As far as my favorite book now, though, don’t laugh … it’s “Fox in Socks.” My son (now aged 9) is mildly autistic, and he still likes a very stable, repetitive bedtime routine. For several months when he was in early grade school, that bedtime routine involved me reading “Fox in Socks”, and let me tell you, I got GOOD at it. I could read it at breakneck pace with very few mistakes, except for “Ben’s band bangs and Bim’s band booms,” which always tripped me up unless I slowed way down.

    It’s not just the happy memories of it, though – I think “Fox in Socks” is some of Seuss’s most delightful nonsense given free rein, combined with his incredible way with words. His writing is meant to be read aloud, and there is an undeniable rhythm to his words that cannot possibly be an accident. When I write a blog entry (a discipline I have neglected woefully in recent months), I read it aloud to make sure it “sounds right.” As goofy as his writing often is, he had a gift for using the right word at the right time. I think it’s easy to overlook his mastery of his craft, since his finished work is so utterly delightful that you don’t see the chisel marks (which is what we all hope for, in the end).

    The unapologetic silliness of “Fox in Socks” is the other thing that inspires me. My whimsy has always been one of my better traits, and some very difficult circumstances in my young adult life hammered that out of me, to the point where I really thought it might be gone for good. I spent so many years with my head tucked down, trying to lay low and not get hurt any worse than I already was, and there was little room in that world for silliness. In the last year, I’ve made the necessary changes in my life to emerge from that dark tunnel, and I’ve seen that silliness coming back. I missed it, and I realize now what a crucial thing it is to have moments in our lives where we are not serious, not working, not filtering our words, not squishing our emotions into socially acceptable boxes – just BEING, and laughing, and saying “tweetle beetle battle” for no other reason than that it sounds funny.

    • thinkbannedthoughts

      Seuss was a remarkable man, beyond his gentle politics – his writing, rhythm, cadence, and pure silliness are an inspiration to me as a struggling kid’s book author.
      I wish I’d had a chance to meet him. He’s a true literary hero.

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