Dr. Seuss And Read Across America: It’s About More Than Children’s Literature

Dr. Seuss and Read Across America is looking to make reading great again. In a time when it seems that our 4K TVs and Nintendo consoles demand our attention, it’s easy to forget where entertainment started. Before a movie or a video game even goes into production, a script has to exist, and Ubisoft, Disney, and Warner Bros. have benefited greatly from their source material.

With the published written works of the late Tom Clancy, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and various classic literary tales, much of what we sit back and passively enjoy is based on books. Much can be changed from the source material, but it doesn’t make the books any less enjoyable. Dr. Seuss knew this and looked to make a positive difference in entertainment during his time.

Dr. Seuss, or Theodor Seuss Geisel, was born in Massachusetts in 1904, before technology had advanced enough to even allow the existence of the television. Instead, much of our entertainment often came from stage plays, written literature, and the occasional lewd show often used as a draw for pubs.

While in college, Theodor used his mother’s maiden name and added the professional title to make his writing appear more credible. Never an actual doctor, he also created his pen name in response to his father’s wish that he get a doctorate. The pen name stuck, and he went from creating cartoons and humorous articles to more serious works including military documentaries.

Dr. Seuss didn’t actually start writing children’s books until later in life. [Image by Ron Ellis/Shutterstock]

Theodor also used a collection of alternate pen names, much like Stephen King often published under the name Richard Bachman. According to Press Enterprise, Dr. Seuss earned a variety of awards including Academy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize.

It was in 1997 that Theodor was almost ironically inspired by football pep rallies to find a way to get people excited about reading. Under the pen name Dr. Seuss, he founded Read Across America, the biggest event of its kind. It invites readers of all ages to crack open a tome or power up their Amazon Kindle or reading device of choice and pay homage to the origins of modern entertainment.

Schools throughout the United States have latched onto the idea and hosted events under the Read Across America banner, even drawing celebrity appearances. Country music superstar Garth Brooks, actor Morgan Freeman, and former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal have been among them, showing that reading isn’t just for the “nerds.” Schools understand that reading comprehension is key to a greater and more productive education, as most of the lucrative sciences often require extensive book knowledge.

The higher your reading level, often the higher you will go in your career. Dr. Seuss simply wanted to add some fun to it much like Freeman Elementary School did for Aurora, Illinois students. According to the Chicago Tribune, educators and students alike came to the event dressed as popular characters in literature including the author’s own “cat in the hat,” Batman, and Elsa from Frozen.

Participants in Read Across America dressed as Batman and other characters. [Image by Phillip Maguire/Shutterstock]

Educators Rising coordinator Pam Ferdinand is one of many showing support for the event on Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

“This is the fourth year we have done a reading event, and tonight is more about the emphasis on getting kids to read than Dr. Seuss, but using him and his books allows us to have a framework so people can dress up and have some fun. Our main emphasis is on the national event, and the importance of reading is what it’s all about.”

Police officer Chris Beiriger also saw an opportunity to help children understand that police are not the enemy. The importance of this has been seen ever since the string of police killings in recent years, when Black Lives Matter took to the streets in protest.

Positivity and education took the stage on Tuesday all thanks to a man who simply wanted to make reading more fun. What are you doing to celebrate the birthday of the late Dr. Seuss?

[Featured Image by Erika J Mitchell/Shutterstock]

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