Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Even though he published his first book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street in 1937, Dr. Seuss earned most of his income until 1957 in advertising. By then, he had written 12 children’s books. In the late fifties, there was concern that children were not learning to read. Some writers like Rudolf Flesch (Why Johnny Can’t Read) and an article by John Hersey in Life magazine, blamed boring primers like the Dick and Jane books for that failure. William Spaulding, who headed his publisher’s education division, challenged Dr. Seuss to “Write me a story that first-graders can’t put down!” It was to be limited to 225 different words out of a list of 348 words. The result was The Cat in the Hat.
In 1958, Seuss, his wife Helen and Phyllis Cerf started Beginner Books, a division of Random House headed by Bennett Cerf. The mission of Beginner Books is to publish books that help children learn to read. Some of the first books published were The Cat in The Hat Comes Back, P.D. Eastman’s Go, Dog, Go and Stan and Jan Berenstain’s The Big Honey Hunt.
Bennett Cerf bet Dr Seuss that he could not write a book using 50 or fewer words. He won that bet with Green Eggs and Ham which is his best selling title.
Other beginning best sellers include One fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and the favorite in our family, Hop on Pop.
All eight of these books are available in the Yulupa Library and the Sonoma County Library.