Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

The Cat In The HatThe most famous children’s book writer of all time, Dr. Seuss, would have been 108 today. Theodor Seuss Geisel, who called himself Dr. Seuss, wrote over 40 children’s books during his life, which have sold more than 200-million copies. Some of his most famous books include The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Green Eggs and Ham, Oh The Places You Will Go!, and Horton Hears a Who!

In May 1954, Life magazine published a report on childhood illiteracy, which concluded that children were not learning to read because their books were boring. Accordingly, a director of Houghton One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue FishMifflin compiled a list of 348 words he felt were important for first-graders to recognize and asked Geisel to cut the list down to 250 words and write a book using only those words.

Nine months later, Geisel completed The Cat in the Hat, using 236 of the words given to him. It was imaginative with simple drawings and strong verse rhythms but most of all, it could be read by beginning readers.

¡Horton Escucha a Quién!The Cat in the Hat and subsequent books written for young children achieved huge international success and they remain very popular today. In 2009, Green Eggs and Ham sold 540,366 copies, The Cat in the Hat sold 452,258 copies, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish sold 409,068 copies — outselling the majority of newly published children's books.

Green Eggs and Ham
Green Eggs and Ham, written by Dr. Seuss, contains a vocabulary of only 50 different words, which is far less than the more chatty The Cat in the Hat, which uses 236 words. Here’s a word cloud (created by using Wordle) based on all the words in the text of Green Eggs and Ham.Green Eggs and Ham word cloud (click for larger image)

Read Across America Day 
Geisel's birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association.

Read Across America 

Redmond Library Board

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