Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!
Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904. My oldest son was born on the very same day, exactly ninety years later. Now my son is all grown up, a college student with a hairy face and a busy schedule, but every year on his birthday, I think of Dr. Seuss, too. I remember the days of holding a warm, little body next to mine and reading about wockets in pockets and fox in socks. The colorful pictures, the silly prose, the rhyming nonsense words are something universally appealing to young children, but there is more to it than that. It doesn’t matter how old the books are, children still worry about what problems the Cat in the Hat will cause, and if Horton will hear the Who, and how the Grinch will be able to save Christmas.
I read those books over and over again to my first son, and then my second, and finally to my third. I enjoyed the rhythm and cadence to the words, and by the time my youngest child was born, I had several of the books memorized and we owned a complete collection. I loved watching my children’s faces light up when we’d get to their favorite parts, the anticipation and the excitement. I would pause, just for a second, to enjoy the expressions on their little faces a bit longer. Soon, during those pauses, they were filling in the words for me. Before long, they were reading the books on their own.
It was a sad day for me when my youngest son grew too big for the sweet silliness of Dr. Seuss. I moved the books from his room, to a bookshelf in our family room (hoping that one of my nephews or nieces or a random stranger would ask me to read them), and then to another in our basement. Finally, I packed them up in a box labeled, “Books To Keep,” and put them in our storage room. I try to donate most of our old books to family and friends, but there are certain ones that are simply too precious to part with. Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, Margaret Wise Brown, Eric Carle, Graeme Base, and Chris Van Allsburg are a few of the authors featured in that box, along with every book we have ever owned, no matter how battered or worn, by the incomparable, irreplaceable and completely magical Dr. Seuss.