I think Dr Seuss is one of those authors you either love or loathe, but either way, he has been enormously influential. Whatever it takes to get kids interested in reading is the way to go, irrespective of our own personal preferences. I was particularly interested to read the following article because it reminded me of a relief class (year 1) I taught years ago. I was told that it was a particularly difficult class, all of whom had poor concentration, and that I should come prepared. So I did. In my usual fashion I brought along all my props – the CD’s and some of the equipment I use in Kidz-Fiz-Biz – but also brought along my “Cat in the Hat” hat and I was wearing my over sized T-shirt of the same name. I also wore an enormous knitted and brightly colored coat. I told the children I had ‘tricks up my sleeve’ which kept the agog all day. I read them the story of the Cat in the Hat on a rainy day while wearing my hat and T-shirt to ‘set the scene’, after which they had to write their own story of what they would like to do on a rainy day. Sometimes we need ‘over the top’ props to get through and I was very grateful for my Dr Seuss books and pops. It was an enormously successful day. They weren’t demons at all, just curious 6 year-olds.
“I’m Naive enough to believe that society will be changed by examination of ideas through books and the press, and that information can prove to be greater than the dissemination of stupidity.” – Theodore Geisel, “Dr Seuss” in a 1984 interview.
“Because I grew up with Dr. Seuss (I was four years old when The Cat in the Hat was published), I often go back to his books for entertainment and enlightenment. After all, he not only taught my generations how to read, but he taught us how to think – why else would we wear those crazy looking clothes, become war protesters, start the back-to-the-land movement, and drive around the country in colorfully painted buses? The quote above, like everything Dr. Seuss did, is simple but powerful, and it sums up this tumultuous summer: Rupert Murdoch fell from power, just like Yertle the Turtle, because he climbed on the backs of too many and lost control of the integrity at the bottom. Our record heat wave tells us that we need to slow down climate change, as The Lorax predicted we would if we prioritized commerce over nature and didn’t take care of our planet. What would Dr. Seuss think about the current government debacle? I don’t think he would approve of placing the interests of corporations above our social welfare. The way he taught me to think, it’s not right to protect corporate interests with wars fought and paid for by the working class and then balance the budget by cutting social and educational programs that might have given underprivileged kids a chance to succeed. Johnny can’t read, but that’s ok because he’ll drop out of school and join the military, keeping the world safe for American oil tankers. Sorry, Tea Partiers, that’s not a Revolution, that’s a Road to Ruin.”
Jim Barnes, Editor and Book Awards Director – Independent Publisher Newsletter – August 2011