Theodor Geisel was born on March 2,
1904. When he was growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts he spent a lot
of time at the zoo because his father was the superintendent. He liked
drawing pictures of the animals. Even when he grew up he liked to draw
imaginary animals in his books.
He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1925 and then he went to England to study for his Doctor's Degree in Literature at Oxford University. But before he got his degree, he got married in 1927 and returned to America. He first got jobs writing and drawing cartoons for magazines and he also worked in advertising. He started to write and illustrate children's books in 1937. He used his mother's maiden name, Seuss, as an author. He called himself Dr. Seuss and in 1980 he received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Whittier College. Dr. Seuss died in 1991 but his books are still being read all over the world.
In 1954 there was a report in Life magazine
about children not being able to read well and the government and the schools
wanted to do something about it. His publishers told Theodor Geisel
that children weren't reading because kids' books were boring. They got a
list of 400 words that teachers said young children should learn and asked
him if he could write interesting and exciting books using these simple words.
He used 220 of these words to write The Cat In The Hat. Then his editor
bet him $50 that he couldn't write a book using only 50 different words.
He won the bet when he wrote Green Eggs and Ham.
Dr. Seuss books are fun to read because
he makes the words rhyme and he makes up imaginary words that sound silly.
If you say them fast your tongue gets twisted. But they're good to teach
young kids to read because they show them which sounds go with the letters
of the alphabet. A lot of his books can also teach people, even adults,
about serious problems we have to solve in real life. We liked reading The
Sneetches for this project because it's about not being prejudiced against
others who don’t look like you. The Lorax is about not wasting natural
resources and protecting the environment. The one we liked best was
The Butter Battle Book because it's about preventing war.
We read about Hiroshima where the first
atomic bomb was dropped. There was a huge explosion that killed thousands
of people. Then the sky turned dark in the middle of the day because
of all of the dirt and dust that was blown up into the air. It started
to rain black raindrops. If the people did not die immediately they
could get radiation sickness that could kill them years later.
In The Butter Battle Book both sides built silly looking weapons with funny sounding names. They thought they could destroy the other side's weapons or threaten to attack back to get revenge. Now, in real life, the United States is trying to build a missile defense system. If another country fires a missile at us we will send our own missile up to hit it in space and destroy it. But what will fall to Earth if that happens?
Now scientists are warning us that if
we have World War III we could have a Nuclear Winter. The explosions
would make so much dust in the air that the sun couldn't shine through it.
Plants would die because they need sunlight to make food. Then animals that
eat plants will die. People will die too because we need plants and
animals to survive. When both sides dropped their bombs in The Butter Battle
Book everything vanished. So Dr. Seuss made a good point.
This book is really about the Arms Race and it has a moral:
If you start a war you will end up with zero.
By Lawrence Yep
Apple Books, 1996
The following are all by Dr. Seuss,
published by Random House:
The Cat In The Hat, 1957
Green Eggs And Ham, 1960
The Sneetches And Other Stories, 1988
The Lorax, 1971
The Butter Battle Book, 1984
Linked Web Sites
Dr. Seuss Web Page
Wall Of China
Force Link (Minuteman III missile picture)
Mr. Gary Greenberg, Teacher
Public School 241
976 President Street
Broooklyn, New York 11225 USA