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Ted: A Timeless Storyteller

Ted was born March 2, 1904 to the son of German immigrants. He had a love for all art forms such as sculpting, oil painting and illustration.

During high school, he worked as an editor for his school’s newspaper, the Central Recorder. Ted frequently wrote “articles, verse, humorous squibs, and occasional cartoons.” When the time came to attend college, the 18-year-old wanted continue pursuing his passion for art and writing at Dartmouth College. An influential English teacher inspired him to attend the university and be a writer. Ted was rather uncertain about his path at Dartmouth, but he knew art and writing would be involved.

Ted recalled his time at Dartmouth were he “began to get it through my skull that words and pictures were Yin and Yang. I began thinking that words and pictures, married, might possibly produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.”

He “discovered the excitement of ‘marrying’ words to pictures.” This period in Ted’s life was a segue for him to discover that he was a gifted artist who merged social and political perspectives with art. He eventually became the editor-in-chief of a prominent humor magazine on-campus. Ted’s time at the university was also a catalyst for him to reach millions of people around the globe.

On the night of 1925, Ted decided to party with his friends and drink a pint of bootleg gin. At the time, the consumption of alcohol was considered illegal because of Prohibition laws. Unfortunately, Ted and his friends were caught and the dean implored him to resign from his position as editor-in-chief of the magazine. Ted instead went incognito and used an alias. This allowed him to continue working for the magazine and somewhat listen to the dean’s request. He used many names “Seuss,” “T. Seuss” and eventually added “Dr.” This small act of rebellion was not only a symbol of persistence, but the beginning of a legacy.

Dr. Seuss’ faced 27 rejections from publishers before his first children’s book, “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street,” published in 1937. His pursuits greatly paid off while still being humble. The rest was pretty much history.

Then in 1943, Dr. Seuss decided to join the U.S. Army to help with the war effort. According to his website, Seuss was assigned to the Information and Education Division. He met animated filmmaker and cartoonist Chuck Jones while enlisted. The two would eventually create a small 1966 television special, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.”

Dr. Seuss’ Books Photo

One characteristic of Dr. Seuss’ books is the timelessness of each story, which continuously maintains their status on bestselling lists. Photo from ABC Action News.

His next major success was “The Cat in the Hat.” The former director of Houghton Mifflin’s education division, William Spaulding, challenged Seuss to write a story using only 225 words from a list of 348 that first-graders could not put down. Seuss wrote it in 236. The book sold 1 million copies in the first three years of publication.

In 1984, he won a Pulitzer Prize for “for his contribution over nearly half a century to the education and enjoyment of America’s children and their parents.” Then seven years later, Seuss died of cancer in La Jolla, California.

Posthumously, Dr. Seuss was featured in “100 People Who Changed the World” in 2010. According to The Washington Post, Penguin Random House stated, “Dr. Seuss books have sold 650 million copies in 95 countries and have been translated into 17 languages.”

To commemorate Seuss’ contributions to society, Americans annually participate in National Read Across America Day to celebrate his birthday and increase awareness. It is part of Read Across America, which is “an initiative on reading creative by the National Education Association.” This motivational campaign received a highly positive sentiment score of 94.9 percent with an estimated 15,000 social media users discussing this day. Some of the top trending words were “seuss,” “#drseussday,” “happy” and “rewarding.”

The aim of this celebration is to demonstrate how reading should not be considered a tedious task for children. Adults need to encourage them to understand reading can be a form of escapism, education, amplify wonder and influence the imagination.

Word Cloud

#ReadAcrossAmericaDay or Dr. Seuss Day is an annual awareness initiative to encourage children to love reading, but also to honor a storyteller’s legacy. Photo from Adam Brown Social Media Command Center Social Media Studio.

This awareness campaign provides inspirational ways to get children to love reading such as keeping a book every they go, frequently take them to the local libraries, have children see adults reading, read to children and have children read to adults.

So, thanks to the influence of a teacher, a pint of gin and slight rebellion, millions of children experience the joys of eating green eggs and ham, having a cat turning a dull day into an adventure of wonder, enthusiastically cheering when the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes bigger and many more tales of wonder.