How one author in particular shaped my lifelong love of books
By Patricia Baer
He was really quite clever. He was a literary legend. Take a moment to honor his birth this March the second. Who, you ask? Must I reintroduce? It is the beloved children’s book author, Dr. Seuss.
There are two people from my childhood who are probably the most responsible for making me who I am today: Jim Henson and Dr. Seuss. The older I get, the more I recognize the influence the work of these two men had on my eagerness to learn, curiosity about the world, and sense of empathy.
I consider myself fortunate that the adults of my childhood understood the importance of reading aloud to me, and I always had shelves of books available to choose from at bedtime. Dr. Seuss was among these and although probably not as many titles as I would have liked, the modest selection we owned were some of my favorite stories. The words and illustrations were silly and playful, imaginative and wacky, all of which made reading seem like an enjoyable activity.
My sense of enjoyment has stayed with me into adulthood, and at times I think I have taken it for granted. This hit me a few years ago when a friend of mine was considering a return to school for a teaching license by dipping her toe into the education waters as an after-school mentor.
When explaining her volunteerism and potential future plans, she said something along the lines of, “I think reading is the coolest thing.” With the ability to read, and more importantly the enthusiasm for the activity, the world opens up to you.
Imagine how hard school would be for a student who does not enjoy reading. Whether or not a subject was interesting to the student would not matter because the act of reading, itself, would be a dreaded task. My heart breaks considering the uphill battle a student in that mindset would face while attempting to study and thrive academically.
In addition to making reading exciting, and, by extension, schoolwork easier, Dr. Seuss impacted my education later in life as well. He is, in part, responsible for leading me down the path—some may say in a dark descent—towards my degree in theater.
But that tale of a skit involving beetle battles on noodle eating poodles is perhaps the topic of another column. In the meantime I will fry up some green eggs and ham in celebration of the man who made it inconceivable for me to live in a house without multiple bookcases.