Classic Book Collection: Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991) - better known by his pen-name, Dr. Seuss - has sold millions and millions of his fantastically fun and lively stories. But what is it about these bright, bizarre books that has caused them to garner such great acclaim, and why are they still so popular today?

The Books

Dr. Seuss's wonderfully zany and colourful tales have enjoyed extraordinary success over the decades. His most popular book, Green Eggs and Ham (1960), has sold well over 8 million copies (and was originally written as a response to a bet that he couldn't write a book using just 50 different words!). His second most popular book, The Cat in the Hat, has sold well over 7 million copies. Other popular Dr. Seuss books include Oh, the Places You'll Go!, Hop on Pop and Fox in Socks. But what has made his books so incredibly popular - and why do they continue to be popular today?

Literature experts and readers agree on several reasons for the timeless appeal of Dr. Seuss's books, not least of which is simply the fact that they're brilliantly fun and exciting. The hugely imaginative characters, drawn in Dr. Seuss's iconic, exuberant style, appeal to children and adults alike, and the marvellously mad storylines are entertaining enough to engage even the most reluctant reader. In an interview for the Denver Post, children's literature expert Jen Robinson notes that 'the key to Dr. Seuss's enduring appeal lies in the spirit of playfulness that permeates his work'. In his stories, he 'encourages children and adults to look at the world in different ways, whether this means upside-down, from the top of a tree or from inside a tiny speck'. The childlike feel of Dr. Seuss's stories, on top of his experimentation with perspective and point of view, ensure his tales are truly enthralling and transport readers to a wonderfully wacky world. Similarly, in an interview for Vanderbilt News, children's literature expert Ann Neely comments that Dr. Seuss's books 'demonstrate his heart in a way that allows the reader to read, repeat and even sing his words. This readability is a key part of the enduring power of Dr. Seuss literature'.

Dr. Seuss's stories also make the challenge of learning to read an exciting exploration of words and sounds, rather than a boring chore. Using ingenious wordplay, Dr. Seuss has created an exciting celebration of language and phonics in his body of work. His consistent use of galloping, rhyming verse and sound repetition ensures that children learn quickly to match certain letters with certain sounds, but this learning process is far from tedious as children enjoy a plethora of comical words and phrases, curious characters and spellbinding storylines. The books are therefore popular with parents whose children are beginning to read or are reluctant to read. William Porter writes for the Denver Post: 'Most important, his books have introduced millions of children to the joys of reading and the magic of wordplay.' Jen Robinson agrees: 'I think it's this combination of playfulness and lyricism that makes Dr. Seuss's works stand the test of time.'

The rollicking rhymes and sing-song sentences ensure that his books appeal to grown-ups, too. Adults can appreciate the skill that goes into creating such perfectly-crafted verse, and reading it aloud is fun. Older readers also come to understand that Dr. Seuss's ostensibly silly stories often feature important moral messages that continue to be relevant today. Perhaps the clearest example of this is The Lorax. Zoe Williams writes for the Guardian: 'Of all Dr Seuss's books, The Lorax, published in 1971, has the most obvious echo into the future, with its premonitory synthesis of greed and environmental destruction.' The themes in Dr. Seuss's books endure, and in the process of reading them, readers absorb important lessons.

Where to Start

If you'd like to start reading Dr. Seuss's books but don't know where to begin, you may wish to start with his most popular titles. His top three bestselling books include Green Eggs and Ham, in which the narrator is sure he doesn't like green eggs and ham - until he tries them, of course; The Cat in the Hat, which features a fun-loving feline and his mischievous minions; and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, in which two children encounter all sorts of strange creatures. These quirky tales constitute a great introduction to Dr. Seuss.

Alternatively, you may wish to progress chronologically, starting with Dr. Seuss's very first children's book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937). Next up would be The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1938) - which, unlike most of his works, is written in prose rather than rhyming verse - followed by The King's Stilts (1939) and Horton Hatches the Egg (1940).

A Brief Biography of Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on 2 March 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He completed his undergraduate studies at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, graduating in 1925, and then attended Oxford University to study for a PhD in English literature. He met Helen Palmer at Oxford, the woman who would become his wife. After marvelling at his drawings, she persuaded him to abandon his PhD and instead pursue a career in illustration.

Dr. Seuss married Helen Palmer in 1927 and moved back to New York City. He wrote his first children's book in 1931, an ABC of fanciful creatures, but it did not find a publisher. In the same year, Helen Palmer learned that she could not have children.

Finally, in 1937, Dr. Seuss's first children's book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was published. It was based on a real street near his childhood home in Springfield. Before publication, it was rejected by more than 20 publishers, and Geisel had been about to burn it out of frustration. Fortunately, a timely encounter with an old friend led to its publication. In 1984, Dr. Seuss would win the Pulitzer Prize for his body of work, including over 45 hugely popular children's books.

Dr. Seuss became a political cartoonist during World War II, and helped to create a series of animated short films featuring the blundering soldier, Private Snafu. The films were used to instruct service personnel about military matters including security, proper sanitation and booby traps.

Helen Palmer suffered from a string of illnesses in the years leading up to her death, including cancer, and she committed suicide in 1967. The following year, Dr. Seuss married Audrey Dimond, with whom he had been having an affair.

In September 1991, Dr. Seuss died of mouth cancer, aged 87. In 2004, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • ADDKC 5 years +
    5 years +
    • £16.79
    • RRP £19.99
    • Save £3.20Save 16.00%
    The perfect gift -- five of Dr. Seuss' best-loved tales in one attractive book. A wonderful gift, featuring five of the hilarious classics that made Dr. Seuss one of the best-loved children's authors: The Cat in the Hat The Cat in the Hat Comes Back Green Eggs and Ham Fox in Socks How the Grinch Stole Christmas With his unique combination of hilarious stories, zany pictures and riotous rhymes, Dr. Seuss has been delighting young children and helping them learn to read for over fifty years. Creator of the wonderfully anarchic Cat in the Hat, and ranking among the UK's top ten favourite children's authors, Seuss is firmly established as a global best-seller, with nearly half a billion books sold worldwide.
  • AHICE 4 years +
    4 years +
    • £9.89
    • RRP £9.99
    This fabulous compilation of four of Dr. Seuss' most wacky tales, packed with colourful zany pictures, rollicking rhyme and off-the-wall humour is guaranteed to make reading fun! Hop on Pop introduces readers to a range of simple rhyming words, all used in short, humorous sentences. The nonsense escalates in Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! as the reluctant Marvin is driven to bed by whatever means he can muster, be it on stilts, by mail, or even on lion's tail. Oh, The Thinks You Can Think! encourages readers to explore the fantasy world of their own imagination, offering a surreal combinations of things to think up. Finally, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!, featuring the famous Cat in the Hat, offers even more fun to be had by reading with Dr. Seuss!
  • The Wonderful World of Dr Seuss Collection - 20 Books - Collection - 9780007823505 - Dr. Seuss
    WWDS 5 years +
    5 years +
    • £21.99
    • RRP £119.80
    • Save £97.81Save 80.9999999999999948840923025272786617279052734375%
    • Just £1.10 per book
    Due to phenomenal demand, we are out of stock of this title. We will not be receiving any more stock for the foreseeable future.

    The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Horton Hears a Who... Dr. Seuss' creations are timeless and here you can read all of the stories starring this zany cast of characters for one unbelievable Book People price.

    With books full of crazy rhymes and weird and wonderful characters , this collection even contains some Dr. Seuss books you may not be familiar with just yet - making it all the more fun to read!

    Wild, wacky and energetic, you'll love reading these books almost as much as your children will enjoy listening to you read them. With 20 little hardbacks displayed in a box, this collection will inspire a lifelong love of quirky reads in your children.

    Please note each book size is 160 x 115mm
  • DRSC
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    Oh, the places you'll go when you grab your colouring pencils and start working your way through these pages as so...

    Dr. Seuss' iconic creations have delighted generations and this colouring book will provide hours of creative fun for fans of any age, whether you're 5 or 105.

    Some of the 45 intricate illustrations are more complex than others but they all have playful patterns and favourite characters from classic books including The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax and Horton Hears a Who.