Fill your house with stacks of books,Dr Seuss
in all the crannies and all the nooks.
But what books do you choose? How do you find books that will gain and hold your child’s attention?
You may think that these questions are new, but the reality is that parents have been asking these questions for decades! And, what made it even more challenging is that just a few decades ago, there were not that many children’s books around that were truly interesting and engaging.
Oh, make no mistake, there were books to teach children how to read. But something was missing…
There was no engagement…
Children were starting to lose interest in what they were reading…
They were not seeking out books…
What was a parent to do?
Just like a superhero in the comic strips of old, an ordinary man who loved reading and loved words rose to the challenge and started creating books that children fell in love with. Books that children didn’t want to put down. Books that rhymed and explored words and word families.
I’m sure that you’ve heard of this hero of years ago even today: His name is Dr. Seuss.
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Writing to Fill a Void
When Theodore Seuss Geisel, know to his friends as ‘Ted’ and to the world as Dr Seuss, first started writing children’s books in the 1950s, he wrote about things that he had seen and experienced as a child. He wrote about things that interested him and added in a good dose of imagination. If a word did not exist to name a creature, Dr Seuss simply made up the name for that creature, making sure that it fit with the rhyme of the rest of the book. (“There’s a wocket in my pocket!”)
You see, just before Dr Seuss started writing his books, there were a few studies that came out saying that children were losing the desire to read because there were no books to hold their attention! And that is where the challenge came in! Dr Seuss’ publisher gave him a challenge to write a book using 225 words that First Graders would not want to put down. Dr Seuss rose to the challenge and ‘The Cat in the Hat’ was born. This book was not only an instant success, but it has a timelessness so children over 60 years later are still willingly picking up this book and reveling in its fun and fanciful, silly and entertaining tale.
Dr Seuss saw a huge void in children’s literature. He saw a need for interesting books that would engage children’s minds and imaginations and spark in them a love of reading and a desire to read more. And so Dr Seuss began to write to fill that void. Happily for us, Dr Seuss was not content to stop at only one book, but he continued to create fun, engaging, entertaining books that children then and now love to pick up again and again.
50 Words or Less
“I bet you cannot write a children’s book using 50 words or less.”
Have you ever heard of such a thing? No? Have you have heard of the book ‘Green Eggs and Ham’? ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ is Dr Seuss’ best selling book of all time and, interestingly enough, it is written using less than 50 words!
Apparently Dr Seuss was not one to back down from a challenge and so when his publisher made him this bet, he rose to the occasion. But not only did he manage to write a book using 50 words that children just learning to read would know, he wrote a 62 page book using only 50 words!
The thing that makes ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ stand out from the crowd is not the number of words that it uses or the fact that it was written in response to a challenge. What makes it stand out is the story itself. It is easy to read. It is simple for beginners. It has a fun and engaging story line with persistent yet very love-able characters. It has rhymes and rhythms that make you want to keep coming back again and again to rediscover the story captured in its pages for all time.
Playing with words
Some people are scared to create something new. Some people are afraid to play around with language and words and see where it takes them. Some people do not have the courage to begin…
Dr Seuss stands up in this midst of all this indecision and loudly declares in each of his books that he loves to play with language! Truly, who else but a man who is unafraid to play with words could come up with such memorable characters as a “Zans who opens cans” or a “Zelf on the shelf” or a “Nook Gase in my book case”?
…Like the TellarThere’s A Wocket in My Pocket by Dr Seuss
and the Nellar
and the Gellar
and the Dellar
and the Bellar
and the Wellar
and the Zellar
in the cellar
or a “Zillow on my pillow”?
There is something about a book with rhythm and rhyme that captures your attention, that draws you in, that imprints itself indelibly on your mind to the point where you want to keep coming back to it over and over again.
Dr Seuss is a master of rhyming words and exploring word families. You can almost hear him having fun as he plays with the different words to find the right pair that will tell the story in an engaging way.
Not on a train! Not in a tree!Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss
Not in a car! Sam! Let me be!
I would not, could not, in a box.
I could not, would not, with a fox.
I will not eat them with a mouse.
I will not eat them in a house.
I will not eat them here or there.
I will not eat them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
More than anything, Dr Suess’ books are downright fun to read!
Dr Seuss books are big favorites in our house. (‘Green Eggs and Ham,’ ‘There’s a Wocket in my Pocket,’ and ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish’ are the current favorites!) And as I was writing about Dr Seuss, I wanted to find out what my children thought. I was honestly surprised at the unanimous answer (and, for the record, I asked all 5 of my children at different times!).
From our 3 year old who loves it when I read Dr Seuss books to her to our First Grader who fits perfectly into the age group that Dr Seuss wrote for to our oldest who is almost done with elementary school, they all agreed that the rhymes are what makes Dr Seuss’ books so much fun.
You see, the more your child reads them, it becomes less and less “reading a book” and sounding out the words letter for letter, but it turns into a means of storytelling. Hearing the inflection and storyteller elements coming out of your child is a beautiful things to watch as well as hear.
The more they read, the more confidence they gain in reading. When a child can read a book that they like and read it well, it helps increase their confidence in reading and inspires them to keep reading and to read new books.
And what more could a parent ask for when it comes to reading than a book that their child comes back to again and again simply because they want to? A book that helps improve their reading skills, their articulation, and their ability to tell as story as they read out loud? A book that inspires them to read more and more to find out what wonders await them between the pages of books?
In the words of Dr Seuss:
The more that you read,Dr Seuss
the more things you will know.
The more than you learn,
the more places you’ll go.
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Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.