Unless Someone Like You Cares a Whole Awful Lot,

Nothing is Going To Get Better. It’s Not!

Thinking Green With Dr. Seuss

Dr. Leslie Suters lsuters@tntech.edu
Dr. Sarah Keller skeller@tntech.edu
"I like nonsense -- it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope... and that enables you to laugh at all of life's realities.
Theodor Seuss Geisel

Who is Dr. Seuss?

The Basics (Theodor Seuss Geisel):
  • Date of birth:
March 2, 1904
  • Place of birth:
Springfield, Massachusetts
  • Date of death:
September 24, 1991
  • Place of death:
La Jolla, California
  • Married to:
    • Helen Palmer Geisel, 1927-1967
    • Audrey Stone Geisel, 1968-1991
  • Education:
    • B.A., Dartmouth College, 1925
    • Oxford University (no degree)

Awards & Recognition:
  • 3 Academy Award–winning films (1946; 1947; 1951)
  • Peabody Award (animated specials, 1971)
  • 2 Emmys (1977; 1982)
  • Legion of Merit
  • 3 Caldecott Honor Awards (1947; 1949; 1950)
  • Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from his alma mater, Dartmouth
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Award (1980)
  • Pulitzer Prize (1984)
  • New York Library Literary Lion (1986)

Ted Geisel (Politics, imagination, & talent) = Dr. Seuss
  • Editor of Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern (first signed his name “Seuss”)
  • Political cartoonist for Judge & Saturday Evening Post
  • 15 years in advertising for Standard Oil (Quick Henry, the Flit!)
  • WW II - Political cartoons for P.M.
  • 1942 - drew posters for Treasury Department and War Production Board
  • Joined army in 1943 - commander of Animation Dept of the first Motion Pictures Unit of the United States Army Air Forces.

Rationale – Ted Geisel & Dr. Seuss in the Classroom:

“Like most works of merit, the works of Dr. Seuss have been over analyzed; many scholars have found devices where there are truly none to be found. For the most part, Ted enjoyed writing entertaining books that encouraged children to read.”
  • A literature study often overanalyzes a book to the point that students are so tired of it that they just want it to be over.
  • Content area subjects often are isolated to a specific subject area; math, science, and social studies often are separated from the rest of the curriculum and are taught in applications exclusive to the subject while confined to the lessons in the textbook.
  • Interdisciplinary Units have been found to be very effective in teaching children to make connections between the different disciplines. (Children do not usually make these connections unless they are taught to look for them.)
  • The books of Ted Geisel offer a way to mesh a literature study with study of the content areas in interesting hands-on ways with real-world applications that help children learn to make connections between the disciplines.

Although we consider him an author of children’s books, Ted Geisel himself said that he wrote for people, not for children. His books have important messages about environmental issues, conflict resolution, and human rights, but he took pains not to preach (Nel 2005). He didn’t write his books to be used as the basis of lesson plans - but teachers are creative individuals who find inspiration for teaching material in many unlikely places! Seuss created a wealth of material that teachers have used as the inspiration for lessons including the unit and lessons described in this Wiki.

In addition to the books in his Beginner Books Series, Seuss wrote many longer more complex picture books that will be referred to as the Classics. The Classics are longer than the Beginner Books, have well developed plots, interesting characters, convey a message, and usually have an easily identified moral. The universal themes and concepts in the Classics engage the reader and can be easily applied as the inspiration, the theme, for interdisciplinary thematic units.

“The best slogan I can think of to leave with the U.S.A. would be: ‘We can . . . and we’ve got to . . . do better than this.'”
Theodor Seuss Geisel