Happy Birthday, Dr Seuss

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 March, 2011, 12:00am


Today is Dr Seuss's birthday! Dr Seuss is the pen name of Theodor Seuss Geisel, Ted for short. He was born in 1904 in Massachusetts in the United States. His second name, Seuss, was his mother's maiden name. His family was German.

At bedtime his mother chanted rhymes to Theodor and his sister. This gave him his gift and enjoyment of rhyme.


Ted used a special form of rhyme in his books. It is thought this is why his writing was so popular. Others have tried to copy him. They have not been as successful as he was.

His style of writing used four rhythmic units. Each of these units was made up of two weak beats. These were then followed by one strong beat. An example of this, from Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, is:

'And today the Great Yertle, that Marvellous he is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.'


Ted began his writing career at Dartmouth College. He was the editor-in-chief of the college magazine.

He got into trouble for having a drinking party with his friends and was no longer editor.

Then Ted used the name Seuss to submit articles to the magazine.


Ted created advertisements for more than 15 years. During the second world war he made training movies for the US Army. This was where he learned the art of animation. He got a contract to do the drawings for a children's book. This started him on writing children's books.

He went on to write and do the drawings for And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. Ted took his book to 27 publishers before it was accepted. It became very popular.

250 Words

In 1954 Ted was asked to write a book. This book was to contain only the 250 words that first-graders should recognise.

Ted used 236 words to write The Cat In The Hat.


Ted had written 44 children's book when he died on 24 September, 1991. His books have been translated into more than 15 languages.

More than 200 million copies have been printed.

Now do this:

1 What is thought to be the reason for the success of the Dr Seuss books?

a. Their colours

b. Their rhyming

c. Their size

2 Where did Dr Seuss get his name from?

a. Seuss was the name of a ship

b. Seuss was his mother's maiden name

c. Seuss was his brother's name

3. Who gave him his love for rhyme?

a. A school teacher

b. His grandfather

c. His mother

Answers:1. b, 2. b, 3. c