March is one of my favorite months, namely because March is dedicated to National Reading Month and specifically yesterday, March 2, was Dr. Seuss’s birthday and National Read Across America Day.

As I write this on March 2 I’m wearing a Dr. Seuss shirt, eating green boiled eggs and a ham sandwhich, and preparing to go see the Cat in the Hat at the Brumback Library. All week I’ve read various Dr. Seuss books to my dogs. They have enjoyed Oh, The Places You’ll Go, The Foot Book, and The Lorax and today, when my mail comes in, they will enjoy The Butter Battle Book and The Sneetches and other Stories. Reading is good for dogs, at least that’s what I’ve read.

Recently, while in the campus bookstore at IPFW, they had a table set up for Dr. Seuss’s birthday. I bought a 100 page illustrated book called Who Was Dr. Seuss? I learned so many fascinating things about him that I just have to share.

Did you know Dr. Seuss invented the word “nerd?” Dr. Seuss first used the word in If I Ran the Zoo in 1959 to describe an animal that Gerald McGrew planned to put in his zoo. Within a year of the book’s release, teenagers in Detroit were using “nerd” to mean “a drip or a square.” With the rise of comic book movies today, the word is very widely used. I found that really neat.

What I enjoyed learning about most when it came to Dr. Seuss’s life was his activism. He took social issues to heart and did what he did best to speak out about them: wrote books. My personal favorite book (and apparently Seuss’s too) is The Lorax. Dr. Seuss had apparently been looking out the window of his California home one day and noticed that in place of all the trees, buildings had been erected. He was upset about the matter and after a trip to Africa to get inspired, he wrote The Lorax in one go.

Being the nature-loving-hippie that I am, The Lorax is one of my favorite stories in the world. The movie, while obviously a lot different than the book, is my all-time favorite cartoon. I don’t know how many times I’ll be at home and break out into song singing “How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just doing what comes naturally” (that’s the part in the movie where the Once-ler is chopping down the Truffla trees like a mad man). My boyfriend informed me that we weren’t allowed to watch “The Lorax” on Friday because he’s tired of seeing it, so maybe I do watch it just a little too much.

Dr. Seuss wrote The Butter Battle Book which tells the story of enemies, the Zooks and the Yooks. One group likes butter on the bottom of their bread, while the other likes butter on the top, and neither thinks that the other is putting butter on the right side. Each group keeps making bigger and bigger weapons than the other group to destroy their enemy. Finally they both make a weapon so big that it would destroy them all, and that’s where the story ends.

In real life, Dr. Seuss was upset about the United Sates and the USSR trying to “out weapon” each other. He said he ended his story abruptly because he could not think of a happy way out and left it for readers to decide what happened.

The Sneetches and other Stories reflects the Civil Rights movement and how the only difference between the two Sneetches in the book is that one has a green star on its belly. Otherwise, they are exactly the same – they are all Sneetches – equally.

While I could go on and on about the many, many other ways Dr. Seuss incorporated activism into his books, I unfortunately do not have enough room in this paper. What I can tell you, is that Dr. Seuss is a perfect example of someone who changed the world with his writing.

He used his ability to make kids happy, to make kids enjoy reading, and to make them learn a little something while doing it. These books, while mostly given to children, can teach perfect life lessons to adults as well. I highly suggest the book “Seuss-isms! A Guide to Life for Those Just Starting Out… and Those Already on Their Way” for some lyrical and witty life lesson quotes.

In the Month of March I look forward to focusing on stories that promote literacy, our great local library, and how important it is for parents to promote a love for reading in their children at a very young age. It’s a fact: literacy, poverty, and crime all go hand in hand, and I look forward to sharing those details with you all this month. Happy reading!