One of my biggest inspirations for writing is Theodore Geisel, a.k.a., Dr. Seuss. Yes, I am a Seuss fan. I know not everyone is, and that is okay. We all have our opinions. But, the reason he and his books are an inspiration to me is the sheer persistence it took for him to be published. What would we have missed out on, if that had not happened? It is hard to imagine a world without Seuss.
Today, all over the world, people are celebrating Dr. Seuss and his tales, for it his birthday. His characters and bright imaginative illustrations capture the very child that resides within us all, let alone the legions of students who cling to his stories daily.
Locally, time is taken today to stop and read, celebrating the life, words, and work from an author we all know and most of us like. The elementary school in which my boys were students and where I still meet with young writers once a week are engaged with special guest readers today. Readers who I know will make the pages come to life for almost all in attendance. Stripped hats, not only in white and red, but many pairs of colors have dotted the heads of young audience members in the past.
It is actually difficult to write in a Seuss-like style! Have you tried it? I have. A couple of years ago, I brainstormed an idea to have my 3rd grade writer’s circle students write a Seuss-like story, similar to Green Eggs and Ham using only the 50 words I provided. Seuss did it, why couldn’t we? Well, it was unbelievably hard, even for these above-benchmark writers. It was difficult for me, as I tried to write a story with the same set of words I gave them to use as a model. Believe me, it was not a great story!
But, here’s the thing, the challenge of possibly being able to write a story similar to one of the world’s most famous children’s authors was and still is irresistible to my students. They were consumed with the task of using simple but colorful language to tell a story. Total engagement. And, as a bonus, the students came away with total appreciation for an author who made the task of writing simple stories with simple and sometimes few words look so easy.
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! I hope you continue to inspire future generations of readers and writers!