“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.” — Dr. Seuss
I did not need to credit Dr. Seuss with that quote for it to be recognized, his style was so unique it revolutionized the way we look at children’s literature. Characterized by rhyming, made up words, and a knee bouncing rhythm, Dr. Seuss’s books are delightful and timeless.
This does not mean I think we should all begin writing in rhyme and add whatever fa-lloo-fall-in word we think up. However, it is worth noting that Dr. Seuss was able to engage kids in reading all because of his style.
Dr. Seuss’s books are known for their moral lessons, however, as Dr. Seuss himself recognized, “Kids can see a moral coming a mile off and they gag at it.” His books are instead a candy-coated roller coaster. When we get off, we are begging for more, and are a little bit more inspired, more accepting, or more courageous to boot.
Dr. Seuss commented on his style, “The problem with writing a book in verse is, to be successful, it has to sound like you knocked it off on a rainy Friday afternoon. It has to sound easy. When you can do it, it helps tremendously because it’s a thing that forces kids to read on. You have this unconsummated feeling if you stop.” Generations of kids have kept on reading because he did not stop. You will find Dr. Seuss’s rhythmic and rhyming lessons painted in bedrooms, in bios online, or tattooed on our very hearts. A few favorites:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
“I’ve heard there are troubles of more than one kind; some come from ahead, and some come from behind. But I’ve brought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see; now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”
“We’ve GOT to make noises in greater amounts! So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”
All these quotes have starred in Dr. Seuss books read to countless children, on countless knees, countless times. The lessons they teach are not necessarily novel, but they are presented in a novel way that manages to create a lasting impact for those reading.