Today is the 107th birthday of revered writer and cartoonist Theodor Seuss Geisel — better known by his pseudonym Dr. Seuss, under which he authored 44 children’s books.

Born to Theodore Robert and Henrietta Seuss Geisel in 1904, Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated renowned classics such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham by the time of his death on September 24, 1991. By the time of his death, more than 200 million copies of his books were in print, in over 15 languages. A national memorial garden featuring sculptures of Geisel and characters from his work resides in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where he grew up.

[media-credit name=”photo courtesy of Springfield Museums” align=”alignleft” width=”187″][/media-credit]

This sculpture in Massachusetts features Dr. Seuss with the Cat in the Hat. Seuss wrote 44 children’s books in his career.

According to Sara Orr, director of public relations and marketing at the Springfield Museums, Geisel began pursuing his writing and drawing career early in his life.

“He started out as a comic illustrator writing for magazines and newspapers,” Orr said.  “He also worked for his high school and college newspapers, so he got started well before he began writing child’s books.”

Geisel graduated Dartmouth College in 1925 — where he joined the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon and became editor in chief of the college’s humor magazine Dartmouth Jack O’ Lantern — then attended Oxford University without earning a degree.

Orr said Geisel incorporated parts of Springfield in his cartoons and illustrations.

“He adopted some street names and family names from Springfield into his books,” Orr said.

During World War II, Geisel began drawing political cartoons for a liberal magazine and served with the U.S. Army, filming training movies.

According to Orr, many of his illustrations criticized the Axis Power’s war efforts.

“He did a lot of political cartoons which were taking potshots at the Nazis and Japanese at the time,” Orr said.

In honor of Geisel’s birthday, the National Education Association is celebrating the 15th annual Read Across America Day.

According to California Teacher’s Association’s community relations specialist Sheri Myamoto, the NEA chose to create the event in 1997 to coincide with Geisel’s birthday because of his extensive literary achievements.

Myamoto said the nationwide event emphasizes the lifelong importance of reading.







“It is a celebration of reading and engages kids of all ages, not just the younger ones,” Myamoto said. “Reading is important for everyone because it is such a valuable educational tool.”

This year’s theme is “Serve Up a Good Book.”

Although the celebration is a single-day event, Myamoto said the campaign encourages recreational reading throughout the year.

“It goes beyond one day but we chose to focus on that day in particular to encourage reading not just because it is a textbook, but because it is enjoyable,” she said.