History of Dr. Seuss’s Birthday
Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts and his grandparents were German immigrants. He grew up around a wealthy extended family during World War I which helped shape his patriotism. As a scout, he sold War bonds and as the story goes, he sold so many that he was to be honored by President Theodor Roosevelt. When the award ceremony took place, however, Roosevelt only had nine medals leaving young Seuss without a medal. Teddy asked, “What’s this boy doing here?” and ever since Suess suffered from stage fright.
Seuss graduated from high school in 1921 and attended Dartmouth College where he joined a humor magazine called the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern. He would eventually become editor-in-chief of the publication, but when he was caught drinking he was forced to resign. This was the time of Prohibition and there was a zero-tolerance policy.
Seuss drew over 400 political cartoons during World War II for the New York daily newspaper called “PM.” Many of them were politically charged against the dictators Hitler and Mussolini and Japanese Americans were depicted as latent traitors. In them, he also showed his support of President Roosevelt and critiqued Congress and he wrote films for the U.S. Air Force.
By the 1950s, he wrote children’s books after the war in La Jolla, California under the pen name Dr. Seuss. Some of these were “The Cat in the Hat,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and “Green Eggs and Ham,” and he continued to write until his death on September 24, 1991. His legacy lives on as his beloved children’s books continue to sell well and inspire young people to read. In 1997, the National Education Association chose his birthday to celebrate reading and the first Read Across America Day was held the next year in 1998.