Gettin’ Seuss-y With It
In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March 2nd is National Read Across America Day. Across the country, thousands of schools, libraries, and community centers celebrate the joys of reading by bringing kids and books together at fun events. There’s probably something cool going on near you, but if you’re like me, you don’t mind gettin’ your Seuss on at home.
And believe me, we did.
We started off with one that I consider a Pop Classic. Due in no small part to his love
for PBS Kids, the 5 year old picked The Cat in the Hat as our first selection. You really can’t go wrong with unattended children on a rainy day. That’s a recipe for comedy genius/disaster all on its own. The 5 year old chuckled throughout and dutifully noted all the ways in which the story had been modified for the modern series. He enjoyed every minute of it, and I enjoyed that he enjoyed it. But, as popular as it is, The Cat in the Hat is not my favorite.
The nine year old chose Horton Hears a Who. I do love that one. Elegant statements of personhood are nearly impossible to deliver in rhyme. That assertions of the inherent rights of all beings and the mind-bogglingly unknowable scope of the universe are simultaneously delivered to us by an elephant holding a pink puff in his trunk might be the actual definition of genius.
On most days, I probably would have picked Horton as my favorite, but something in me was itching for the thing I loved most about Dr. Seuss books as a child and still appreciate as an adult: playful language. Dr. Seuss spent a lot of time playing with nonsense words, but I personally love the ones where he sticks to the established lexicon, but it still feels like a circus.
My pick for tonight was Fox in Sox. Fox in Sox may be the most under-appreciated book of the Dr. Seuss catalog, overshadowed as it is by its more popular cousin, Green Eggs and Ham. Both have an antagonizing show-off goading a straight man, a la Abbott and Costello, but what Fox in Sox has that Green Eggs and Ham doesn’t is a bold use of single word repetition that almost forces you to read it aloud. Something about those words just won’t stay on the page. You have to say them so you can have the privilege of feeling that rhythm on your tongue. It’s silly. It’s lovely. It’s joyful. And I’m glad I dug it out of its hiding spot to share it with my little ones tonight.