Why Dr. Seuss Will Always Stay on our Bookshelf

Dr. Seuss classics stand the test of time.
By Amy Mascott
Mar 18, 2013



Why Dr. Seuss Will Always Stay on our Bookshelf

Mar 18, 2013

Dr. Seuss books are a rich collection of texts written by a man who changed the face of literacy for millions of children around the world.

In the 1950’s, when Dr. Theodor Geisel wrote The Cat in the Hat, children were stuck in the Dick and Jane rut. Texts were boring, uneventful, and bland.  Dr. Geisel changed that—in a major way. His “Cat” book incorporated tons of sight words—those words that early readers should learn to recognize quickly and with consistency--into a silly and engaging text. Kids wanted to read.

Today, we have a deep ocean of texts from which we can pull for rich and varied reading for our children. We have what seems like a world of choices compared to what families had when Seuss was in his heyday. Despite that, here are three reasons that I, as a Reading Specialist and parent, will continue to keep the Dr. Seuss classics on our shelf:

1. The nonsense. 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.

2.  The storylines (or lack thereof).  For many of Dr. Seuss books, there’s no real context to lean on, no synthesizing of ideas, or using the pictures when it comes to decoding words.  So readers must stretch, sound out, and use what they know about letters and sounds in order to read the words.  The absent storyline forces all kids to focus on words, decode, and improve those phonics skills!   In several of his other books, Seuss wrote about heavy topics like kindness, inclusion, and respect for our environment in subtle ways, sharing deep and meaningful messages to millions of readers.

3. The illustrations. The wild, fantastic, and sometimes even not-that-cute illustrations are great for children in the same way that children benefit from all kinds of teachers in their lives.  Dr. Seuss illustrations are the ultimate seek-and-find; if children look close enough, they’re bound to find tiny surprises on nearly every page.  Seuss was a master at detail and incredible at embedding messages within the pages—even without a single word.

So though I will continue to search for rich and varied literature for my three readers, I will never omit Seuss from our mix!

What do you think about Dr. Seuss books? Share your thoughts on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page, or find Amy on twitter, @teachmama, and let’s continue the conversation!

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