Dr. Seuss Day
Held annually on March 2nd, Dr. Seuss Day is a holiday that celebrates the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, otherwise known by the pen name by which he authored children’s books: Dr. Seuss. During the 1990s, the National Education Association advocated for a day to celebrate reading all over the United States.
In 1998, it started Read Across America and decided to hold it on the same day as Dr. Seuss’s birthday.
History of Dr. Seuss Day
Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2nd, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the United States. In 1921, he graduated from high school and enrolled at Dartmouth College. While there, he joined the humor magazine the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern and eventually became its editor-in-chief.
After he was caught drinking, which was illegal during Prohibition, he was forced to resign from the magazine. However, he decided to continue working for it, using the pen name “Seuss.”
When he graduated in 1925, he then entered Lincoln College, Oxford, to work towards his Ph.D. in English Literature. While at Oxford, he met Helen Palmer, a woman who would encourage him to pursue a career in art instead of becoming an English teacher.
During World War II, Geisel drew over 400 political cartoons for the New York daily newspaper called PM. These cartoons denounced Hitler and Mussolini, and one of them depicted all Japanese Americans as latent traitors.
His cartoons were also supportive of the way President Roosevelt managed the war and were especially critical of Congress. Eventually, he went on to draw posters for the War Production Board and the Treasury Department and then wrote films for the United States Army Air Forces.
After the war, he began to write children’s books from his home in La Jolla, California, using the pen name Dr. Seuss. Some of the books from this time included If I Ran the Zoo, Horton Hears a Who!, If I Ran the Circus, The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, and Green Eggs and Ham.
In 1954, Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat using 236 words that were deemed important for first-graders to learn after Life Magazine had reported that children weren’t reading as much because they found most children’s books boring.
From 1927 to 1990, he was very active, writing many beloved children’s books. On September 24th, 1991, he died at the age of 87. However, his legacy lives on. In 2009, The Cat in the Hat sold over 450,000 copies; Green Eggs and Ham sold over 540,000 copies, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish sold over 400,000 copies.
In 1997, the National Education Association wanted a day to celebrate reading and to encourage children to read all over the U.S., so Read Across America Day was held on March 2nd, 1998. It was set to coincide with the birthday of Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss Day Customs & Traditions
On Dr. Seuss Day, it is customary to read a favorite book with your child. It could be one of Dr. Seuss’s books or it could be another children’s book author. The whole point of the day is to engage children in reading and to get them to read on a regular basis.