On Dr Seuss, Children’s Literature, and The Joy of Reading

Dr Seuss' "Oh The Places You'll Go!"

What's your favourite Dr Seuss book?

I'm not sure when I first read Dr Seuss. A lot of people I know seem to remember growing up with his books, but I can't seem to recall if Dr Seuss books were ever a part of my childhood.

As a child, I learned how to read by myself. Long before I went to kindergarten at age 5, I knew how to read. I don't know why or how. I don't remember my parents reading to me or teaching me.

All I know is that during reading time in my very first school (Ann Arbor Montessori), I was a bit envious of all my classmates who kept coming up to the teacher asking how to read certain words from our early learning books with sentences like, "Spot runs. He runs very fast." I didn't need to ask. Without formal reading lessons, I somehow knew the words that I saw on the printed pages.

Some of the earliest books I remember reading were: Nancy Drew, Dana Girls, and Bobbsey Twins series. I think it's partly because I didn't stay with early reading books for very long. I progressed to novellas and full novels quite early on. And, never looked back.

At around age 10 or 11, I was introduced to the world of Sweet Valley High and Sweet Dreams.

But, thanks to my English and literature teachers, I also became immersed in the world of Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, CS Lewis, and more.

I loved reading from a very young age, and I still do. Reading also made me want to write.

So, I never outgrew my love for children's books and young adult books. These books are what made me fall in love with cultures, language, and worlds that are outside what I am familiar with. That's why to me, they will always seem like magic.

And, even though I don't remember ever reading Dr Seuss as a child (though I must have!), I have fallen in love with his work all over again as an adult. Especially as a parent.

You see, when my son was just over three years old, we ended up in a used book shop here in South Australia during a day trip. While looking through some of the stacks of books, my boy picked up "Hop on Pop" and just began to read.

He read the first page, them the next, and the next... And, I was shocked. I knew at the time that he could read certain words. I knew it because he would ask us things like, "Mum, why does that sign says 'Warning'." And he would be spot on.

But, I didn't know he could really read. Like a proper book. Page by page.

It was reading that Dr Seuss book in that used bookstore that made it clear to me.

That's why that book was sold to us, and we started collecting more Dr Seuss books (amongst others). My son, however, loves non-fiction books more than fiction so our children's book collection became primarily filled with this Usborne books series that he loved so much.

At age 8, the boy has learned to love different books now, including some fiction series that engages him. He is also now reading novellas and novels. But, even though he is good in reading and seems to love reading with myself or my husband, he doesn't seem so keen to pick up a book on his own. Unless on rare occasions when he just really wants to know what happens next in a story. I'm still hoping that he will love independent reading more as he grows older.

In any case, Dr Seuss played another role in our life when my then-four year old daughter one day just picked up "Green Eggs and Ham" and read at least 80% of the book on her own. It has always been one of her favourite bedtime stories since age 2 or 3, and even without extra prompting, she seemed to have just picked up reading as well.

Again, I sort of knew she could read at around age 3, as she also would ask questions like, "Why does that say...". But, I didn't quite expect her to read that Dr Seuss book when she did at the time.

My kids have also fallen in love with the movie versions of Dr Seuss books, particularly "The Lorax" and "Horton Hears a Who".

My personal favourite Dr Seuss book is "Oh The Places You'll Go".

I just love Dr Seuss' play on words, the rhythm of the language, the meanings behind the stories... And, yes, even the very unique and playful artwork.

So yeah, I have definitely become a Dr Seuss fan.

How about you? How did Dr Seuss play a part in your reading life? Do you have a favourite Dr Seuss book?

Dr Seuss and the Joy of Reading

About the Author Shai Coggins (MTeach, MSoc Sci App Psych)

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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