When I was that age, I loved reading Dr. Seuss - forcing my parents to re-read the same books over and over until I had memorized the words. Green Eggs and Ham was always my favorite. It was passed down from both my sisters, and was filled with random crayon doodles and tattered pages, some smudged and splattered with popsicle juice and Cheeto fingerprints.
In reading his books, the picture I conjured in my head of the children's author was a mix between Willie Wonka and Mark Twain - a tall, lanky man wearing candy-colored suits, sporting a handlebar mustache and surrounding himself with tiny magical Who people. A regular-looking fellow couldn't have come up with Sam I Am and the Fox in Socks.
In all actuality, Dr. Seuss looked more like Mr. Rodgers than Mr. Wonka.
Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904, Springfield, Mass., the grandson of German immigrants. Before writing his first children's book, Geisel was an illustrator for several national magazines and marketing firms, and during World War II, he worked in the animation department of the United States Army, where he wrote Design for Death, a documentary that won the 1947 Academy Award for Documentary Feature.
Dr. Seuss wasn't even a doctor, even though his biography stated that he considered pursuing a PhD in English Literature from Oxford. However, he was more inclined to doodling than writing.
As an avid reader and a writer, I have such admiration for the authors of children's books. In reading works by Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl (James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and even J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), I am amazed at how they develop fantasy worlds and utterly-real and unforgettable characters - sparking the imaginations of millions of children.
The genius of these authors and others developed and nurtured my love of reading, and I have tried to pass that love on to my nephew and my son - giving them the same timeless bestsellers I loved as a child. You see a book is really their ticket to anywhere their imagination wishes to go.
For a child, the gift of reading will not only bring better grades and establish a natural curiosity for learning, but it will also provide entertainment for a lifetime.
As Dr. Seuss said so eloquently and melodiously in I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."