by columnist Madeline Karp
For those of you not up on your childrenâs authors, this weekend marked the 99th birthday of beloved childrenâs author, poet and illustrator Theodor Geisel a.k.a. Dr. Seuss.
The Please Touch Museum celebrated by reading Dr. Seussâs best-loved books at story time, by making Seuss-esque self-portraits with children in the art room, and by inviting the Cat in the Hat to come in for a meet and greet photo opportunity.
(Be it known: I am terrified of mascots. Many children were far braver than I when it came to approaching an 8-foot tall cat to pose for a photo.)
I think Dr. Seuss is one of those rare figures who unites people. Iâm not sure Iâve ever met anyone who outright hates How the Grinch Stole Christmas or Hop on Pop. Grandparents and children were both pumped about meeting the Cat in the Hat. Twenty-something babysitters cooed over If I Ran the Circus and older children begged for multiple re-reads of Horton Hears a Who.
All this makes me think that perhaps Mr. Geisel would be excellent fodder for a variety of museum exhibits. So here, in rhyme, are a few ways I think we could incorporate Dr. Seuss into unusual spaces, in an attempt to bring in a new or wider audience to the museum.
With stylized faces and bold use of color
Dr. Seussâs cartoons look unlike any others.
With a pen and some paper,
Youâll go through the museum
To re-draw classic portraits as Seuss wouldâve seen âem.
With poems there comes meter, and timing and rhymes
You could do your addition and maybe cosines,
But you still have to count syllables, iambs and verse
To make your math better, instead of much worse.
We all know the Lorax, he spoke for the trees,
And showed us the downside to big industry.
We can use Dr. Seuss to teach kids about seeds,
Along with earth science and biology.
Since climate debates are happening now
Maybe Ole Dr. Seuss can show us all how
To care just a little, just like we were taught
To make our earth better by a whole awful lot.
âI hate poetry!â young children declare
âI wonât read it, itâs boring, you canât make me care!â
But with poems there comes reading
And spelling and rhyme
I assure you new readers will have a good time
Learning new words and big words
âTheyâll turn on a dime!
Theyâll love to read, and new poems theyâll pursue
Just like parents and teachers would want them to do.
For older readers, there is more to the story,
Dr. Seussâs short poems were all allegory.
Re-read through your kidsâ books
Like Horton and Grinch
And youâll soon see some themes
That might make you flinch.
Which leads us toâŚ
Dr. Seuss was a man with a good, strong opinion
He didnât like Nazis, he rooted for women.
The Great Butter Battle told of the arms race
Yertle the Turtle? How Hitler saved face.
Capitalist Grinches, and pro-lifer Whos,
Seussâs tales carefully â subtly â all spread the news,
That learning history is kind of the cool thing to do.
So you see, there are ways to put to good use,
The morals, the drawings, and words of good Seuss.
My friends in museums from far and from near,
Tell me in comments how you hold him dear!
**Dedicated to my own personal Seuss, Dr. Richard Bronson.