Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Diversity, tolerance, curiosity, and confidence are just a few of the late great author’s life lessons


This week launched a special week for Dr. Seuss fans. Theodore Seuss Geisel was born on March 2 in 1904 and his birthday week has become a celebration for many. Most famously recognized by his pseudonym Dr. Seuss, he is the cherished and renowned author and cartoonist whose books taught me, and hundreds of others, how to read. In honor of one of my favorite authors, I searched through my childhood books and reread my Dr. Seuss collection.

At 3, I mostly appreciated his books because I liked his rhymes and colorful illustrations but was too young to recognize the life lessons Geisel worked into his childish rhymes. Rereading them 20 years later, I was embraced by the warm feeling of nostalgia, and uplifted by his wisdom. To celebrate Geisel’s birthday, I composed a list of 25 insights Dr. Seuss taught me as a child and which continue as valuable lessons on how to live a fulfilling life.


Think Before You Speak

My father had warned me, “Don’t babble. Don’t bray. For you never can tell who might hear what you say.” My father had warned me, “Boy, button your lip.” And I guess that I should have. I made a bad slip.

-“Steak for Supper”

# 2

Recognize When to Work and When to Play

This was no time for fun. This was no time for games. There was work to be done.

– The Cat in the Hat Comes Back


Get Involved

UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

– The Lorax


Expand Your Horizons

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

– I can read with my eyes shut


Try New Things

I do not like green eggs and ham! I do not like them. Sam-I-am.

You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say.

– Green Eggs and Ham



I could eat a goose-moose burger, fifteen pickles and a purple plum! Donuts, dumplings, blueberry bumplings, choc’late mush-mush, super sweet. Clam stew, ham stew, watermelon, wush wush. Oh, the things I could eat!

– The Cat in the Hat Songbook


But don’t OVERindulge

Silly Sammy Slick sipped six sodas and got sick sick sick.

– Dr. Suess’s ABC


Search for Meaning

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

– How the Grinch Stole Christmas


Understand That Shit Happens

The bus stop was there. And that part was just fine. But tacked on a stick was a very small sign saying, “Notice to Passengers Using our Line: We are sorry to say that our driver, Butch Meyers, Ran over four nails and has punctured all tires. So, until further notice, the 4:42 cannot possibly take you to Solla Sollew…but I wish you a most pleasant journey by feet. Signed Bus Line President, Horace P. Sweet.”

– I had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew


Be Vigilant

You have to be smart and keep watching their feet. Because sometimes they stand on their tiptoes and cheat.

– Happy Birthday to You


Accept Help When You Need It

I floated twelve days without toothpaste or soap. I practically, almost had given up hope when someone up high shouted, “Here! Catch the rope!” Then I knew that my troubles had come to an end and I climbed up the rope, calling, “Thank you, my friend!”

– I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew


Stay open minded

There are so many things you can learn about. BUT… you’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.

– -I Can Read With My Eyes Shut


Embrace That There Are Mysteries in Life

‘Cause you never can tell what goes on down below! This pool might be bigger than you or I know!”

– McElligot’s Pool


Face Your Troubles Head On

But I’ve brought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!

– I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew


Remember the People Whose Shoulders You Stand On

I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights.

– Yertle the Turtle


Treat Everyone As Your Equal

I’m quite happy to say that the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day, the day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches and no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.

– “The Sneetches”


Cherish Diversity: It’s Good to Be Different

We see them come. We see them go. Some are fast. Some are slow. Some are high. Some are low. Not one of them is like another. Don’t ask us why. Go ask your mother!

– One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish


Remember that EVERYONE matters

A person’s a person, no matter how small.

– Horton Hears a Who!


People Are Free! … And So Are Turtles

And the turtles, of course…all the turtles are free as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.

– Yertle the Turtle


Be Grateful For What You Have

When you think things are bad, when you feel sour and blue, when you start to get mad… you should do what I do! Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky! Some people are much more…oh, ever so much more…oh, muchly much-much more unlucky that you!

– Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are


Don’t Doubt Yourself

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know and YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

– Oh, The Places You’ll Go!


Embrace Who You Are

Shout loud, “I am lucky to be what I am!” Thank goodness I’m not just a clam or a ham. Or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam! I am what I am! That’s a great thing to be!

– Happy Birthday to You


And Be Proud of Who You Are

Of all the shapes we MIGHT have been… I say HOORAY for the shapes we’re in!”

– The Shape of Me and Other Stuff


And Remember to Congratulate Yourself on Being You

Come on! Open your mouth and sound off at the sky! Shout loud at the top of your voice, “I AM I! ME! I am I! And I may not know why but I know that I like it. Three cheers! I AM I!”

– Happy Birthday to You


And, Most Importantly, if You Ever Need a Boost…

And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

— Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Substance is a publication of the Mt. San Antonio College Journalism Program. The program recently moved its newsroom over to Medium as part of a one-year experiment. Read about it here.