Read Across America celebrates Geisel’s impact on children’s literature
by STEPHANIE TANG
Recognized for his enduring impact on children’s literature, Theodor Seuss Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss’s) birthday is celebrated with the 17th annual Read Across America Day.
Geisel’s birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association.
According to timeanddate.com, Geisel is an American writer best known for writing children’s books. He credits his mother with giving him the abilities and desire to create the rhymes that he is now so well known for, because of the way she would sooth her children to sleep by “chanting” rhymes remembered from her youth.
After graduating high school, Geisel left his hometown of Springfield, MA at the age of 18 to attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. There he became an editor-in-chief of the Jack-o-Lantern, the school’s humor magazine, where he first used the pseudonym “Seuss.”
Upon graduating from Dartmouth, he entered Oxford University in England, intending to earn a Ph.D. in English literature. At Oxford, he met Helen Palmer, who encouraged him to give up his ambition of becoming an English teacher in favor of pursuing drawing as a career. Palmer later became his first wife and was also a children’s book writer.
Returning to America, Seuss began to pursue a career as a cartoonist. He created advertising campaigns for Standard Oil and other companies for more than 15 years, but he also had some of his work in publications such as The Saturday Evening Post, Life, Vanity Fair, Judge and many more.
Geisel’s first book that he both wrote and illustrated, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, required a great degree of persistence to be published. The book was rejected 27 times before finally being published by Vanguard Press.
Having written and published 44 books, Geisel died of oral cancer Sept. 24, 1991, in his home in La Jolla at the age of 87. By the time of his death, Dr. Seuss had been honored with two Academy awards, two Emmy awards, a Peabody award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal and the Pulitzer Prize.
Read Across America is not only a day to read books, such as Cat in the Hat but also to commemorate the life of Dr. Seuss.