7 Curious Facts About 7 Dr. Seuss Books

1. Hop on Pop

In an early draft of the book, Theodor S. Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) wanted to make sure his publisher, Bennett Cerf, was reading the manuscripts he was turning in, so instead of this line: “My father / can read / big words, too. / Like... / Constantinople / and / Timbuktu” the manuscript read as follows: “When I read I am smart / I always cut whole words apart. / Con Stan Tin O Ple, Tim Buk Too / Con Tra Cep Tive, Kan Ga Roo."

2. Green Eggs and Ham

Again, we have a story here involving Cerf. This time it’s a wager. “I’ll bet you $50 that you can’t write a book using only 50 words,” said Cerf. He knew that Seuss had used a whopping 225 words in The Cat in the Hat, which had recently been published, and he knew how Seuss had struggled with that one, so the $50 seemed like easy money. Yeah... easy money for Seuss!

3. The Cat In The Hat

This neat tidbit involves another challenge, though not from Cerf, from a Life Magazine article about illiteracy rates. The article argued, “Why should [school primers] not have pictures that widen rather than narrow the associative richness the children give to the words they illustrate — drawings like those of the wonderfully imaginative geniuses among children’s illustrators, Tenniel, Howard Pyle, Theodor S. Geisel.”

Seuss read the piece and immediately began working on The Cat In The Hat, which took him nine months to write! A 236-word book, that rhymes, and entertains, is darn hard to write!

4. Horton Hears A Who

This book has been the subject of much brouhaha. Turns out that the recurring phrase uttered by Horton "a person's a person, no matter how small" has been commandeered by several pro-life groups who use it in support of their views, something Seuss strongly disapproved of.

5. And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street

Published in 1937, this was Seuss’ first children's book. His original title for the book was “A Story That No One Can Beat.” Maybe this was the reason it was rejected by 27 publishers before eventually being picked up by Vanguard Press. Yes, it seems nearly 30 publishers couldn’t figure out a way to make money off a silly Dr. Seuss book.

6. Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories

Published in 1958, Yertle is full of metaphors and allusions that deal with fascism. This, of course, has been well documented and is fairly well-known. What is less-known, however, is the fact that the editorial committee involved in publishing the book hemmed and hawed about publishing it in the first place. NOT because of the fascism, but—are you ready for this?—because of the word “burp!” Yep, it seems burp was something like a vulgar expletive in the children’s book universe. According to Seuss, the publishers at Random House, including the president, had to meet to decide whether or not they could use "burp" because "nobody had ever burped before on the pages of a children's book!

7. The Sneetches and Other Stories

Of all Seuss’ characters the Sneetches have ound its way into more popular songs than the others.

a) From the Dead Kennedys' song "Holiday in Cambodia"
You're a star-belly sneech
You suck like a leach
You want everyone to act like you

b) Bikini Kill's song "Star Bellied Boy",
He said he wanted to
JUST touch YOU
Star Bellied Boy
Different from the rest
Yr soooo different from the rest

The Star-belly sneeches are mentioned as well in Flobots' song "Simulacra", from their album Onamatopoeia and in Ben Cooper's song "The Sneetches", in which he sings "we are nothing only Sneetches, thinking that our stars are brighter than on thars."

Arend Kuester, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Qatar National Library's Panorama-Style Bookshelves Offer Guests Stunning Views
Arend Kuester, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Arend Kuester, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The newly opened Qatar National Library in the capital city of Doha contains more than 1 million books, some of which date back to the 15th century. Co.Design reports that the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) designed the building so that the texts under its roof are the star attraction.

When guests walk into the library, they're given an eyeful of its collections. The shelves are arranged stadium-style, making it easy to appreciate the sheer number of volumes in the institution's inventory from any spot in the room. Not only is the design photogenic, it's also practical: The shelves, which were built from the same white marble as the floors, are integrated into the building's infrastructure, providing artificial lighting, ventilation, and a book-return system to visitors. The multi-leveled arrangement also gives guests more space to read, browse, and socialize.

"With Qatar National Library, we wanted to express the vitality of the book by creating a design that brings study, research, collaboration, and interaction within the collection itself," OMA writes on its website. "The library is conceived as a single room which houses both people and books."

While most books are on full display, OMA chose a different route for the institution's Heritage Library, which contains many rare, centuries-old texts on Arab-Islamic history. This collection is housed in a sunken space 20 feet below ground level, with beige stone features that stand out from the white marble used elsewhere. Guests need to use a separate entrance to access it, but they can look down at the collection from the ground floor above.

If Qatar is too far of a trip, there are plenty of libraries in the U.S. that are worth a visit. Check out these panoramas of the most stunning examples.

Qatar library.

Qatar library.

Qatar library.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images: Arend Kuester, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Reading Aloud to Your Kids Can Promote Good Behavior and Sharpen Their Attention

Some benefits of reading aloud to children are easy to see. It allows parents to introduce kids to books that they're not quite ready to read on their own, thus improving their literacy skills. But a new study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that the simple act of reading to your kids can also influence their behavior in surprising ways.

As The New York Times reports, researchers looked at young children from 675 low-income families. Of that group, 225 families were enrolled in a parent-education program called the Video Interaction Project, or VIP, with the remaining families serving as the control.

Participants in VIP visited a pediatric clinic where they were videotaped playing and reading with their children, ranging in age from infants to toddlers, for about five minutes. Following the sessions, videos were played back for parents so they could see how their kids responded to the positive interactions.

They found that 3-year-olds taking part in the study had a much lower chance of being aggressive or hyperactive than children in the control group of the same age. The researchers wondered if these same effects would still be visible after the program ended, so they revisited the children 18 months later when the kids were approaching grade-school age. Sure enough, the study subjects showed fewer behavioral problems and better focus than their peers who didn't receive the same intervention.

Reading to kids isn't just a way to get them excited about books at a young age—it's also a positive form of social interaction, which is crucial at the early stages of social and emotional development. The study authors write, "Such programs [as VIP] can result in clinically important differences on long-term educational outcomes, given the central role of behavior for child learning."

Being read to is something that can benefit all kids, but for low-income parents working long hours and unable to afford childcare, finding the time for it is often a struggle. According to the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, only 34 percent of children under 5 in families below the poverty line were read to every day, compared with 60 percent of children from wealthier families. One way to narrow this divide is by teaching new parents about the benefits of reading to their children, possibly when they visit the pediatrician during the crucial first months of their child's life.

[h/t The New York Times]


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