Beloved by generations, iconic author Dr. Seuss helped to bring color to the childhoods of millions. His collection of written works, spanning over sixty titles, shaped countless childhoods, inspiring a love of reading for many readers, and entertaining children and parents alike for decades.
Responsible for introducing some of the most iconic literary characters in history, such as the Cat in the hat and the Grinch, Dr. Seuss cemented his legacy as being one of the most successful and memorable children’s author.
To celebrate this literary mastermind’s 114th birthday, here are twenty-one facts about Dr. Seuss!
1. Think Dr. Seuss’ stories were inspired by/dedicated to his own children? Nope. Though the author knew how to create stories and characters children would love, he had no children of his own to go by. “You make them, I’ll amuse them,” he once said.
2. Green Eggs and Ham was written as a result of a bet in which Dr. Seuss’ publisher challenged the author to write a book in 50 words or less. The story has gone on to become one of Seuss’ best-selling book, selling more than eight million copies since its release.
3. The author’s pen name, “Dr. Seuss,” was adopted as a means to publish stories in his college magazine discreetly. While studying at Dartmouth during the Prohibition Era, Seuss was caught drinking alcohol and was prohibited from publishing work. That schools decision led to one of the most iconic literary names in history.
4. Speaking of names, before he was “Dr. Seuss,” the author, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, went by the pen name, “Dr. Theophrastus Seuss.” I, for one, am glad he dropped the first name later on. That might be hard for children to remember.
5. Dr. Seuss reportedly invented the word, “nerd,” and first used the term in his book, If I Ran The Zoo which he published in 1950.
6. His first story, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected twenty-seven times before it was finally published. If you’re an aspiring writer, let that be an example that a successful career can come after rejection.
7. Political turmoil had a significant influence on Dr. Seuss. He was an avid supporter of World War II, and published political cartoons for a conservative newspaper in New York in support of the war effort.
8. Dr. Seuss wrote at least 60 children’s books. He also wrote two adult books, one of which, The Seven Lady Godivas, featured nude females.
9. Two of his most iconic characters, The Cat in the hat and the Grinch, were introduced in the same year, in 1957.
10. His children’s book, Oh, The Places You’ll Go sells a staggering 300,000 copies a year. The story is a popular graduation gift, offering words of encouragement to graduates as they begin their next steps.
Image Via MTFA
11. In an ironic twist, although Oh, The Places You’ll Go is often gifted to graduates, the book was meant to be read a tad bit sooner. Dr. Seuss reportedly wanted soon-to-be parents to read the story to their unborn child, in order to introduce it to his characters.
12. Dr. Seuss is not only a celebrated author, but an Emmy winner. He won two Emmy awards for “Halloween Is Grinch Night” (1977) and “The Grinch Grinches The Cat in The Hat” (1982).
13. Speaking of awards, the artist won multiple Academy Awards for his propaganda films. He won an Oscar for writing an animated short film called, “Gerald McBoing-Boing” in 1951. He also won an Academy for his documentary, “Design for Death.”
14. His works have been translated into over 20 languages, including Yiddish.
15. The Cat in The Hat was written after Seuss’ publishers, Houghton Mills & Random House, challenged the writer to write a children’s book using 220 vocabulary words. Clearly challenges worked out for the author (and everyone else).
16. Politics and children’s books? Horton Hears a Who has long been characterized as a metaphor for Japan’s condition post WWII. Though Seuss’ produced propaganda cartoons beforehand, he became enlightened to the effects of WWII while visiting Japan. The war left the small country devastated and to show solitary, Seuss’ wrote a book to convey the important lesson, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Image Via MTFA
17. During his childhood, Dr. Seuss was in the boy scouts and was reportedly a top seller in his troupe. As a result of his excellence, he earned the chance to meet Theodore Roosevelt.
18. Dr. Seuss’ name is not only printed on millions of books worldwide; its printed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame where the author has his own star.
19. Dr. Seuss was not, in fact, a doctor when he adopted the title. The author reportedly added the ‘Dr.’ before his in order to give credibility to his writing. He did become a “doctor” in 1956 when Dartmouth awarded him an honorary doctorate.
20. Dr. Seuss reportedly had a secret closet filled with hundreds of hats and would frequently go there when suffering from writer’s block. Some stressed writers may like candles, soothing music, and so on, but hats work too.
21. Chances are, you’re mispronouncing Seuss’ name. The author’s name is supposed to rhyme with ‘voice’, and thus pronounced, ‘Zoyce’ or ‘Soice’. Given the authors legacy, we’re guessing the mispronunciation will stick.
Featured Image Via MTFA