I have loved Dr Seuss ever since the first time I read out Mr Brown Can Moo to my one year old and had her making all the Buzzz and Grump sounds with great gusto.
The sheer incredulity of the characters, the wonderful rhymes and the complete creativity of Dr Seuss ensured Hop On Pop and Red Fish Blue Fish became regular bed time favourites in the our Beginner Book collection.
But it was the next set of books , that led me to realise what a treasure trove these books were. I chanced upon “on Beyond Zebra”. As per Wikipedia, “the book fits into the genre of literary nonsense. The young narrator, not content with the confines of the ordinary alphabet, invents additional letters beyond Z, with a fantastic creature corresponding to each new letter”. Quoting from the book,
“In the places I go there are things that I see
That I never could spell if I stopped with the Z.
I’m telling you this ’cause you’re one of my friends.
My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends!”
And yes, I and my then 2-year-old, enjoyed the nonsensical alphabet and the ludicrous characters. But it was not until I saw her creating her own doodles, her own new alphabets, and weird creatures with those alphabets that I realised, how simply yet deeply he had empowered her. He had taught her in his inimitable style without a single sermon that she need not limit herself, to accept something as a norm…just because that’s what everyone did. He had pushed her, to go ahead and dare to be different. Think outside the box with endless possibilities. Boosting Creativity, building the courage to be different with a generous dollop of fun!
In the rest of this post, I will refer to some quotes from his books and how it has enriched our learning parent-child journey in a super fun way!
BE THE CHANGE: Unless you care about it enough and do something about it, how will things change? The orange , fluffy moustache sporting Lorax speaks for his precious Traffula trees and simply portrays the need for environmental concern on the surface. An obvious underlying message the reader repeats is the name Lorax sounds like “lower axe”. But also brings forth the courage to say the much-needed and the hardest thing to do ….to be the first one to say “I care about it”, needed to start the chain of events.
BEING FAITHFUL, KEEPING YOUR WORD NO MATTER WHAT AND LEARNING PERSISTENCE : In Horton hatches the Egg , we are presented with the true humanitarian hero. Horton a trusting elephant who gets fooled by Mayzie bird to sit on his egg. He makes a promise to the crafty bird to watch her egg and keeps to his declaration “I meant what I said and I said what I meant, And an elephant’s faithful, one hundred per cent!” through tough weather and ridicule and even capture and a sea voyage. The twist at the end of the story where a the mini-winged Horton that hatches from the egg is a reminder that often persistence and faithfulness are hard to maintain virtues and while the path may be ridden with ridicule , the result may be a triumph that is entirely unexpected but completely worth it.
Also simultaneously, the bird Mayzie learns a tough lesson… “I’m tired and I’m bored, And I’ve kinks in my leg ,From sitting, just sitting here day after day.It’s work! How I hate it! I’d much rather play! I’d takea vacation, fly off for a rest” ....the problem of quitting a task because it is dull and boring!..How easily can you use this when your child complains about a new language or a homework that is hard to do! It also hides in its cloak the nature versus nurture scenario..and can be easily extended into why an adopted ,nurturing caregiver may be the true parent versus one who gives birth.
FEARING WHAT IS DIFFERENT AND LETTING IT SNOWBALL: The Butter Battle Book written at the time of the Cold war has still all the themes that a parent would love for their child to learn. A wonderful description in the blog here I quote. “The Butter Battle Book is about escalating conflict and cycles of retaliatory violence. It is as much about ancient Greek blood feuds, or the Tamils vs. the Sinhalese, or Muslims vs. Hindus in Kashmir as it is about America versus the USSR. The Butter Battle Book is about never turning the other cheek, never forgiving, and never forgetting. It is about the suicide that comes with these actions ” So when you read it to your child , we can talk of people who are different , why we fear them.. the symbolic wall that you build as you start to separate the person from yourself . The ugly side of competition and wanting to out do someone.. do you see how they both made better gadgets each time trying to outdo each other and how they were so similar … From classroom and friendship issues to current affairs, the possibilities with this book are endless!
RESPECTING SOMEONE ELSE’S FEELINGS AND BELIEVING WHAT IS NOT EVIDENT : Horton hears a who has been a favourite even before Jim Carrey made it a household name with the movie version. Horton promises to help protect the Whos whose entire city is situated on a speck on a clover. Horton can’t even see the Who’s but is the only on who can hear them—and he stoically fights everyone and persists, even when it means having to go through millions of clovers to find them again or standing up to local bully Kangaroo, simply because “A person is a person no matter how small”. Besides all the morals that the child can easily find ,one singular point that comes to me, my fellow parents, is this is for us as well. Remember your child is a person, even if he is just a small one…. treat him with respect , allow him to tread his own path , hear him out and let him be free!!
And with that, I strongly recommend Read and Read the magical world of Dr Seuss and oh… the places you will go!!!