Confession: I don’t love Dr. Seuss.
I don’t, and I haven’t, and I won’t. So there. I said it.
Only a few people know my true Dr. Seuss feelings because, as a Reading Specialist and former high school English teacher, I’ve been afraid to admit it.
But now? I’m a bit more confident (maybe crazy?), and I’m a bit older and a bit wiser. And I’m a bit more accepting, and I’m hoping that others will be the same.
We all have different tastebuds, right? We all have different favorites, and Dr. Seuss just happens to not be one of mine.
However, I have recently been thinking, contemplating, and trying to keep an open mind. I’ve found three reasons I should like Dr. Seuss in all of his Seussness. Being that it’s Read Across America week very shortly and March is a reading-happy month, I thought I’d share.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- Why I Don’t Love Dr. Seuss–But 3 Reasons I Should: First, why I don’t love Dr. Seuss.
All of this is said with full admission of the fact that I am by no means a Dr. Seuss expert, not even a little bit of a Seuss-a-holic, not even close to a Seuss-ologist. There’s a lot I don’t know and a lot I haven’t read.
But here’s why I don’t love Dr. Seuss, in no particular order:
1. The nonsense. I consider myself a relatively funny gal with a relatively decent sense of humor. But the nonsense of Dr. Seuss books? I can’t take it. Once I hit my sixth page of rhyming tongue-twisters, I just about want to scream. And the kids have lost interest. Or maybe I just think they have.
2. The storylines (or lack thereof). Sure, many of the classic Seuss books have storylines, and decent storylines at that. But a lot of them don’t. And I find many of them hard to read. I find some of the characters a little –or a lot–different. Plus, I cannot be the only mom in the universe who every time she reads the story, reprimands Dick and Sally for letting a huge Cat in the Hat in their house while their mom is away. Right? Stranger safety.
3. The illustrations. Are. Scary. To. Me. Andnotatallcute. And I wonder how many children really love them–I mean really enjoy looking at the pages? And how many kids are a little bit nervous, a little bit weirded out, and a little bit frightened? For a good long while, when I had three kids under three years and until each one was sleeping through the night, there was very little I’d put in between my kids and their sweet, sound sleep. Or between me and my interrupted, choppy, desperate attempts at sleep. Goodness knows that the last thing I wanted was for them to wake up screaming from a nightmare based on scary Dr. Seuss characters. Paranoid, I’m sure.
The 3 reasons I should care more for Dr. Seuss:
1. The nonsense. It’s silly! It’s funny! It makes kids giggle! It’s a riot! Kids learn to read and learn the basics of word building when they play with real and nonsense words–and it’s an absolutely wonderful way to get emerging readers to play with language. And language is fun, and all of this does help kids to become more word-conscious and word-aware. It’s good. It’s all good.
2. The storylines (or lack thereof). I’ve noticed, especially recently when Cora’s been trying her hand at reading some of the Dr. Seuss classics, that the lack of storylines really forces her to pay attention to the words. There’s no real context to lean on, no synthesizing of ideas, or using the pictures when it comes to decoding words. She’s stretching, she’s sounding out, she’s using what she knows about letters and sounds. She’s turning back a few pages to find the word she knows she just read. And she’s not alone. The lack of storylines should force all kids to do the same–focusing on words, decoding, and improving those phonics skills, right?
3. The illustrations. I get it. I can’t shelter my kids from everything scary or slightly unpleasant in this big, wild world. I must cease the fast-forwarding of dying Disney mothers and firey Disney villians, just like I must open the pages of Dr. Seuss books and embrace the red eyes of the Grinch or crazy teeth of ‘HE’ biting ME and little JIM biting HIM. Right? And they’re not all scary. The Lorax is cute. The Cat is okay. That poor, little dog in The Grich is . . .um, adorable.
So that’s it. I’m coming clean.
Does it feel good? A bit, especially, with Read Across America Day this week. It does.
Do I believe that Dr. Seuss is a master at his craft? Sure.
Do I believe that many of Dr. Seuss’s books have super-awesome, meaningful, and life-changing take-aways? Sure. Tons of Dr. Seuss life-lesson quotes. Grab what you’d like and celebrate!
Do I believe he changed the face of literature and reading for his time? Yes! His innovative use of language and humor–in the 1950’s–helped a nation with rapidly growing numbers of illiterate children–learn to read in new ways. That. Is. Awesome.
Do I believe he deserves one day all for himself? Maybe, maybe not. I love the idea of celebrating Read Across America Day with texts of all shapes and sizes, from authors of all walks of life and illustrators from here, there, and everywhere.
Do I think I’m the Queen of it All and my opinion is the only one that counts? Nah. Not even a little bit.
I recognize the power of sharing a wide variety of rich literature with my children. Books written by a range of authors and illustrators. I also know that at this point in time, we have such an incredible pool of texts to choose from. There’s not the need to pick the same books every year, every month, every day because we have to. Just because we think we should.
Every single day, great publishers are finding new and upcoming authors and illustrators, and every single day, fantastic books are being put on the shelves of our libraries and bookstores. It’s just a matter of taking the time to find them, share them, and celebrate them.
So will I be sporting my big red and white Cat in the Hat hat this week? Absolutely. Because even though I may not totally heart Dr. Seuss, I do totally heart reading, literacy, and language. And to me, that’s what Read Across America Day–and National Reading Month–is all about.
Thoughts? I’d be curious to hear ’em–feel free to share below! Just remember that we all have different tastebuds, ‘kay?
Cheers, and happy reading during this incredibly exciting journey!