Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ten Best Dr. Seuss Books

In working on a list of the best picture books of all time it was very obvious that the works of Theodore Geisel would be overrepresented (I am a big fan as evidenced by this post).  So I decided to create a list of my personal favorite Seuss stories.  There of course are many great books and it is difficult to place them in order as the quality of Dr. Seuss books is very consistent.  You could really place these ten in any order, so these are according to my personal preferences.

10. 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
One of the longest picture books ever (or at least that is my memory of it (not a good book to read before bedtime).  The sequel Barthomolomew and the Oobleck was another favorite growing up as well.

9. Horton Hatches an Egg/Horton Hears a Who!
Horton is a great lead character.  He is caring, honorable and innocent no matter what difficulty.  It is easy to see why he was the lead in Seussical and he makes a great role model.

8. Sneetches and Other Stories
I was never a huge fan of the other stories portion (The Zax, Too Many Daves and What Was I Scared Of?).  But the titular story is a great morality tale that is just as relevant today.  The idea of assimilation or even just fitting in is one that many relate to.  A great example of Seuss using imagination and fun to comment on a major issue.

7. Green Eggs and Ham
I think that if asked to recite this book, pretty much everyone could.  Seuss' work is often seen as overly simple but the ability for something so seemingly simple to be universal and timeless is truly incredible.  There are plenty of complexities in this favorite book that are easy to overlook.  The poetry and illustrations are top notch and its theme of trying new things is so subtle that you do not realize that you are learning a lesson.

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
First off the Grinch is such a great character and a testament to Geisel as a writer.  He starts of static, unlikable and single-minded but naturally and believably finds a character arc.  This is one of the best known Dr. Seuss stories and one of the best stories about Christmas.  Its message is still relevant and powerful today.

5. Oh the Places You'll Go
As a kid I wondered why this book was given at so many graduations, it was not even close to my favorite Seuss book as a kid.  But now having been sent off into the real world I have an entirely different context for it.  This book is so optimistic without ignoring the darker realities of life.  It eloquently, honestly and imaginatively has inspired many.

4. And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street
What a great first book.  Not as marketable as the rest of these, but still just as important.  This is a real sweet story about a boy who wants to please his father.  Like all great Seuss works it seems simple yet grand.

3. Cat in the Hat
This mischievous cat has become the mascot for children's literature.  He has been a prolific icon and narrator since this book was released, a very versatile character.  The book itself is just great literature.  It is fun, unique and universal.  Who does not know and love this one?  Guaranteed it helped pretty much everyone learn how to read or at least become interested in books.

2. The Lorax
This is how you teach a lesson to children.  Give them enough credit to understand it, do not force it and do not lose the imagination.  "Unless a person like you cares a whole awful lot.  Nothing is going to get better, its not."  Applicable to more than just environmentalism.

1. Butter Battle Book
Reading this in the mid-nineties I had no context for the Cold War.  However that does not lessen its lessen.  The escalation of competition leading to destruction is universal and important to understand.  And the ambiguous ending was the only way to conclude this great book.

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