“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-Am.” Have you heard this rhyme before? It is one of the most famous rhymes in the whole world. It was written by a man named Dr. Seuss. But he didn’t write it because he was inspired. He wrote it on a dare from his boss that he could not write a book using only 50 words. Dr. Seuss took on that challenge and wrote what became one of his most famous books, Green Eggs and Ham. Dr. Seuss was a dreamer and a poet and he got his start as a young child in Massachusetts where his parents inspired him with a love of being creative and making silly rhymes.
Dr. Seuss’s real name was Theodor Seuss Geisl and he was born on March 2, 1904. His dad was a successful brewmaster, making drinks that he sold in around the state. His mom stayed home and took care of little Theodor. She liked to make up funny rhymes and would entertain him by making funny poems about pie flavours.
After the brewery closed, Dr. Seuss’s father began running the local zoo in his hometown. Dr. Seuss liked to visit his dad at work and when he got home he would try to draw the animals he saw on his walls. Dr. Seuss took his first art class in high school and like to draw cartoons.
Another funny thing about his childhood, was that his dad liked to dream up complicated inventions in his spare time. One of them he called a “Silk-Stocking-Back-Seam-Wrong-Detecting Mirror.” It was this kind of funny writing, inventing and drawing that would later help make Dr. Seuss’s books so popular.
At age 18, Dr. Seuss left home to attend Dartmouth College, where he became the editor of its comedy magazine, Jack-O-Lantern. An editor is someone who is in charge of what pictures and stories go into a newspaper or magazine. However, Dr. Seuss got in trouble in college for breaking one of the rules. His punishment was that he wasn’t allowed to work for the magazine. That was when he decided to start using a fake name in his writing. He started to send in comics and publish them under the pseudonym “Seuss.” A pseudonym is a fake name that authors use to hide their identity. Dr. Seuss added the word doctor to the front of his pseudonym because his father always wanted him to become a doctor at college.
After he finished his degree, Dr. Suess moved to England to train to become a professor. A professor is someone who teaches and does research at a university or college. However, after taking this program for a while, Dr. Seuss decided this was not the right career for him. He met his future wife, Helen Palmer, when they were both at college. She was studying English. They decided to get married and they moved back to the United States that same year in 1927.
Back in the United States, Dr. Seuss and Helen moved into an apartment in New York City, and Dr. Seuss started working as a cartoonist. A cartoonist is someone who draws pictures for comics and movies or commercials. He had his articles and pictures published in many magazines, including LIFE and Vanity Fair, which are very famous magazines.
People liked Dr. Seuss’s comics so much that he was hired to a full-time position making his comics and pictures for a newspaper. Dr. Seuss next worked for an advertising company, where he worked for the next 15 years making cartoons for ads. One of his ads became famous across the whole country. It was an ad for bug spray involved a catchphrase that said “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” People thought the punchline was so funny, that the same ad characters were the company’s ad for 17 years. Even though he was very busy with these projects, Dr. Seuss also worked from home drawing pictures for other people’s children’s books.
Dr. Seuss began creating children’s books of his own because it was one of the few creative projects that his job in advertising allowed him to do. He also wrote for children because he loved kids and he wanted to help them learn to read.
Although he loved kids, Dr. Seuss and his wife were not able to have children. This made Dr. Seuss sad and some of his books are dedicated to fake children that he wished were his own.
Dr. Seuss published his first children’s book, in 1937. Published means when someone makes a book so it can be sold to others. His first book was called, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. It was rejected 27 times before it was finally published.
At the start of World War II, Dr. Seuss began making weekly political cartoons and submitting them to magazines. In 1942, when many American men joined the army and went to fight in the war, Dr. Seuss was too old to fight, so instead he worked making cartoon training movies and drawing pictures for army advertisements. At this time, he moved to California, and that was where the training movies he worked on were made. Dr. Seuss lived in California for the rest of his life.
After the war was over, Dr. Seuss and Helen bought an old observation tower in La Jolla, California, and turned it into a home. An observation tower is a tall building used to view events and views from a long distance. It is usually at least 20 feet tall and is made of brick or stone. In his tall home, Dr. Seuss created a writing space and he would write for at least eight hours a day, taking breaks to take care of his garden. Dr. Seuss wrote and threw out between 500-1,000 pages during the first draft of a picture book.
Dr. Seuss’s phone number was one digit off from the local fish store at the time. To be funny, when someone called his house accidentally, looking for the fish store, Dr. Seuss would sometimes send the caller a drawing of the fish they ordered, instead of telling them to hang up and call the right number of the fish store.
Over the next fifty years, Dr. Seuss wrote many books in his home. His funny style, using simple words and funny rhyming became very popular with his readers. He wrote a lot of very famous books including The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. His rhymes and characters were loved by many people. And many children learned to read better by reading his books.
Dr. Seuss wrote over 60 books and some of them were even turned into movies, including How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat in the Hat and The Lorax. After Dr. Seuss published How the Grinch Stole Christmas, he got himself a licence plate for his car that said “GRINCH”. Have you read this book or seen this movie? It is about the Whos who live down in Who-ville and like Christmas a lot . . . but the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT! This story from 1957 is about how the Whos teach the Grinch to love the spirit of Christmas and teaches us all about the importance of doing good deeds. It was made into a tv movie in 1966 and is still one of the most popular Christmas shows.
Some of Dr. Seuss’s other books that you may have read include, ‘One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish’, ‘Horton Hears a Who!’, and ‘Fox in Socks’.
Dr. Seuss’s wife ran the business side of his book publishing during their life together. Unfortunately she died in 1967.
Dr. Seuss got married again, this time to a woman named Audrey, who was a film producer. A film producer is someone who makes movies and Audrey later helped make some of Dr. Seuss’s books into movies, including The Lorax and Horton Hears a Who!
Dr. Seuss won many awards for his books, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and an Academy Award. The Pulitzer Prize was given to him for “his special contribution over nearly half a century to the education and enjoyment of America’s children and their parents.” He was the first person to win the Pulitzer Prize for writing children’s books.
Throughout his career, cartoonist and writer Dr. Seuss published over 60 books. One of the most famous quote from his books says, ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” It is important to always read as much as you can. Dr. Seuss learned to be a good writer and to make funny stories and pictures from his love of reading and drawing when he was a child. He wanted children around the world to be inspired to love reading the way that he did, so he made books that he thought they would find funny and would be easy for them to read.
In 1991, when Dr. Seuss was 87 years old, he died in La Jolla, California. Today, his books are still extremely popular and his drawings and artwork hangs in galleries around the world next to some of the most famous painters of all time.
Dr. Seuss had great success in his life because he was very dedicated to his writing and drawing. Dedicated means to be focused on something important to you and to work very hard at it. Dr. Seuss also showed a lot of resilience. Even though his first book was rejected 27 times, he continued to try and try again to get his book published until eventually it was successful. Dr. Seuss was also not afraid to be himself. His writing was funny and different than what other people were writing at that time. But he continued to be himself and let his personality shine. And that led to his great success in storytelling. One of his books has a great quote to remember about being yourself, “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
Think about the things that make you special and that you enjoy. Do you like writing or drawing? Do you like making funny stories, comics, telling jokes or making rhymes? There are many ways to be creative and all of them can be equally fun. The important thing is to find creative hobbies that you enjoy and if there is something you would like to be good at, to practice as much as you can. By practicing, you get better and better at what you do and it is how all great art is made. You can be and do whatever creative thing you like if you just put your mind to it and keep practicing!