Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite authors (and probably one of yours, too). I loved reading his books as a child, reading them to my children, and then to my students as a teacher. But psst... true confession: After reading all of the famous titles about a million times each, I kind of prefer Dr. Seuss's little-known books, just as a change. And if you're not familiar with them, do I have a treat for you.
Not that there's anything wrong with The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, or Green Eggs and Ham. Far from it! They're enduring classics that should always have a place in every child's library. I can recite GEaH by heart at a moment's notice, and I can zip through the tongue-twisting Fox in Socks at a breakneck pace. (I especially enjoy the Tweetle Beetle section.) But sometimes a grownup just gets tired of reading the same pages over... and over... and over. After a while, your mind starts to turn to dark thoughts: Shouldn't Sam-I-Am be respecting his friend's right to say no? What was that mom thinking, leaving her kids alone in the house for the whole day? And who cleans up after all those animals in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish? The Zans and the Gack must need one heck of a pooper-scooper.
Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote more than 60 children's books, according to ThoughtCo; most were published under his Dr. Seuss pseudonym, but he also used the names Theo LeSieg and Rosetta Stone. Because he was so influential in encouraging child literacy, the National Education Association's annual Read Across America event is based around Geisel's March 2 birthday. Many schools honor the day or the week by holding reading contests or inviting students to dress up as book characters. This year, why not use the occasion to go beyond the Cat and read an unfamiliar title or two? The whimsy and rhymes are all there, and you might find a new family favorite while you're at it. These are some of my top choices, and plenty more are available at your library or through Amazon, if you can't get enough Seuss.
And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street
Start expanding your family's Seussian library with his very first children's book, published back in 1937. His gift for humor and fantasy is in full force in this tale of Marco, a young boy who tries to tell his father about his day. Dad warns him not to exaggerate, but really — how can you talk about seeing a plain horse and wagon when an elephant-led parade is so much more fun?
The 500 Hats Of Bartholomew Cubbins
One of Dr. Seuss's earliest works was this charming prose story (a departure from his usual rhymes). Bartholomew, a boy from the Kingdom of Didd, tries to show respect to King Derwin by taking off his hat — only to find that a new hat appears on his head every time he takes one off. How can he escape being punished by the power-hungry king? The answer will please everyone.
Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose
It's great to be kind, but even kindness can have its limits. That's the lesson readers learn from Seuss's 1948 classic. On his way to better grazing grounds, the moose meets up with an assortment of animals who ask to hitch a ride on his horns. Generous Thidwick gladly complies, but the freeloaders weigh him down so much that he can barely move by the time he passes a group of hunters. Will Thidwick end up on a trophy wall?
I Had Trouble In Getting To Solla Sollew
The poor narrator of this 1965 book tries to escape his problems at home — toe-stubbing rocks, pesky biting animals — by running off to the paradise of Solla Sollew. But getting there is definitely *not* half the fun. You and your kids will laugh, even as you sympathize with the unfortunate traveler.
The Sneetches And Other Stories
This fabulous collection of short tales includes the title story, about a colony of star-bellied critters who discriminate against Sneetches with plain tummies. (A dig at racism, perhaps? Impressive for a 1961 kids' book.) The other stories include "Too Many Daves," about a mom who regrets giving all her sons the same name. (She really should have gone with Biffalo Buff and Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate.)
The Sleep Book
A small, tired bug named Van Vleck, from the County of Keck, lets out a yawn that sets off a chain reaction all over the world. Soon, unusual creatures big and tiny are getting their snooze on. No wonder Seuss warns at the beginning, "This book is to be Read in Bed."
To the farmer, McElligot's Pool is just a dumping ground for old boots and bottles. To young Marco (of "Mulberry Street" fame), it holds far more interesting possibilities. As he envisions all the amazing varieties of sea life that could be found in the pool, your kids' imagination will take flight, too.
Scrambled Eggs Super!
When Peter T. Hooper needs a change from the taste of eggs from "a common old hen," he goes out in search of exotic birds who could help him create the greatest scrambled eggs super-de-duper. Will he choose the Ruffled-Neck Sala-ma-Goox, perhaps? Or an even Seussier creation?
On Beyond Zebra!
Conrad Cornelius o'Connell o'Dell (don't you adore these names?) is about to learn that the alphabet doesn't have to end with Z. His older friend teaches him a whole batch of new letters that will make you wonder how you managed to get by without them. Just try spelling "Floob-Boober-Bab-Boober-Bubs" without the letter Floob, or "Thnadner" without that initial Thnad.
If I Ran The Circus
Morris McGurk is another of Seuss's boys with a wonderfully overactive imagination. To him, the plain vacant lot behind old man Sneelock's store is the perfect place for "The Circus McGurkus! The World's Greatest Show/On the face of the earth, or wherever you go!" Morris's big top features everything from high-wire acts to Wink-Hooded Hoodwinks — and the most daring of the daredevils, old Sneelock himself.
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
So you think you've got it bad? The wise man from the Desert of Drize will set you straight. At least you're not stuck in the traffic jam on Zayt Highway Eight, or employed as a Bee-Watcher in Hawtch-Hawtch (with a dozen other Watchers watching you). By the end, both you and the kids will agree that lots of folks are "muchly much-much more unlucky than you!"
Mayzie McGrew is just minding her business at school when a daisy suddenly sprouts from her head, making her an overnight celebrity. But getting rid of it isn't as easy as it seems. This was Dr. Seuss's last published book, which was made into an animated TV special featuring the Cat in the Hat; this Cat-free edition is taken from his original screenplay.
Horton And The Kwuggerbug And Other Lost Stories
A number of Geisel's short stories were published as a one-time read in magazines such as 'Redbook'. After his death, his publisher found and published some of them in book form, of which this is one. Horton fans will enjoy learning how their favorite elephant deals with a manipulative Kwuggerbug who talks him into making a treacherous journey. Marco and the Grinch are here, too!