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Friday, February 28, 2014

Timeless Ways to Say: Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Yesterday I looked at the copyright problems of celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday.  Today let's look at some fun ways that may avoid those problems.

If you want creative thinking, ask Storytellers.  On the international email list, Storytell, we heard the announcement of the Dr. Seuss exhibition, Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!, so we started getting a variety of suggestions and comments, starting with hats.
Yes, that's Dr. Seuss in one of his many hats!

  • "The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins" was inspired in part by Dr. Seuss's love of hats and his own collection, so you might start collecting hats in places missed by the exhibit. 
  • Hold a campaign to find 500 hats .. children can make hats;  children can make up stories about hats. 
  • People can send you hat recollections; Hat making tales; Myths about the origin of hats.
  • Papa Joe replied with the perfect counterpoint to Bartholomew Cubbins, the equally classic
    book by Esphyr Slobodkina, Caps for Sale, which Wikipedia tells us "sold more than two million copies and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. Caps for Sale won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958."  Papa Joe admitted he " might only now own a half a dozen hats,but once sold caps. And yes, I wore them all on my head and walked around the grounds.  'Caps for Sale! Caps for Sale! Fifty Cents a Cap!' "

Talking about the visual importance of Dr. Seuss, both Papa Joe and Nick Smith felt the illustrations were necessary to their telling. 

I would like to suggest some other options beyond the "finger twister" of signing Green Eggs and Ham I  mentioned in the first part of my two looks at celebrating Dr. Seuss.
  • I especially love the collection of short stories, The Sneetches and Other Stories and, of course, Dr. Seuss's illustrations are a large part of the fun, but it's good for kids to make their own pictures in their minds, too.  For the title story, they can have stars in hand to go along with you as they "go on again, off again, through the machine they raced round and about again."  (Of course at some point -- you choose before or after -- it's good to picture the star on and the star off machines and also those "snooty old smarties.")  
  • Another story in that book I dearly love is "What Was I Scared Of?"  Ask the kids if they know Dr. Seuss once wrote a spooky story and how they can tell it, too.  Some stiff construction paper or, better yet, card stock can let them trace around their fingers to make their own spooky pants to tape on their fingers after you tell it to show what a great finger puppet it makes.
Of course the brainstorming doesn't stop there.
  • If storytellers want to live dangerously, Charles Kiernan suggested the perfect "nightcap", the Doctor's own prescription, The Sleep Book.  Charles promises "It works every time on stubborn-to-go-to-sleep children." 
At the risk of putting you to sleep, I found additional resources beyond storytellers
    has this article, "5 Ways to Celebrate Dr. Seuss's Birthday" -- that link is the one for teachers, but using the search Celebrate Dr. Seuss's Birthday  Scholastic claims to have 137! activities for librarians. It really is a broader search than just our topic, but it has a lot for the Seuss celebration.
  • Also aimed at teachers and homeschoolers is Apples for the Teacher's
    ( Apples for the Teacher)
    Dr. Seuss Day page of games and activities.

  •'s Parenting section includes Family Crafts and while "Celebrate Dr. Seuss' Birthday in March"  is geared to families, there's nothing to stop others from using the page full of ideas.  It also is just one in a series of craft ideas for holidays throughout the year.
  • Pinterest's bulletin board is also jam-packed with ideas . . . hmmmm "jam-packed" sounds like some of the recipes there!
While I was prowling around, Dr. Seuss Day helped me discover, a calendar to browse if you're looking to find events happening on a specific day or you can register and this "ultimate resource for worldwide events, festivals, funny, weird, and wonderful Days of the Year" promises you'll "never miss a day."  I could have used this rival of Chase's Calendar of Events back when planning library programs for specific dates.

I guess it's time to have Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, get my own wishes

After dying in 1991 at age 87, virtual greetings are in order for a truly Timeless author!

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