Why No Seuss?
This weekend, my mother in law called with a question.
“Just curious.”, she said. “Why aren’t you writing about Dr. Seuss?”
March 2nd would have been Theodor Seuss Geisel’s birthday. The Lorax is being released this weekend. Dr. Seuss seems to be on everyone’s mind.
While I know that Geisel was a genius and I know that many people credit him for their love of books, I just can’t bring myself to join the excitement. I do agree that his books have a place. As read alouds. As ways to introduce and play with rhyme. And ways to encourage silliness.
But I often have clients whose parents give them Dr. Suess books to read when they are struggling readers. I can see why this seems to make sense. Unfortunately, Dr. Seuss books, in my opinion, just aren’t the best early readers.
While there is a fair amount of decodable text in these books, there are also some tricky words. There is very little picture support. And there are very many pages. I have watched clients take 10 minutes to get through one page of Cat in the Hat. If you are trying to develop fluent reading with strong comprehension, it should not take you ten minutes to get through a page. And if you are a reluctant reader, I just can’t imagine that Thing One and Thing Two are going to change your mind.
While Dr. Seuss books are great and should be a part of everyone’s reading world, I hope that people take the time to investigate all the great new literature that is out there as well.
There are so many amazing rhyming books that I often worry get neglected as teachers and parents grab the familiar Seuss off the shelf when they want a good rhyme.
A few of my favorite rhyming books that have been written since Dr. Seuss’ day are:
Jan Thomas’ Rhyming Dust Bunnies,
Mem Fox’s The Magic Hat,
most recently, Amy Krause Rosenthal’s Plant a Kiss,
I agree! I find it hard to read Dr. Seuss out-loud, and I consider myself an expert reader! There’s a difference, too, between his books designed theoretically for earlier readers, and his books that are pure story. (My mom had a monthly subscription to Dr. Seuss books when we were little – the ones that are big, like 8×11, those are the ones more for story. Then the smaller ones – like 6×9, Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop – are often CLOSER to readability for early readers, but still a bit hard. In my observation.)
Excellent points Stacey. I avoided Seuss when M was just starting to read precisely because so many made up words made reading hard work and too much of an uphill challenge, when what i wanted was for her to feel encouraged and able.