But read between the lines of his work and you’ll discover some profound life lessons and serious wisdom in there. While his zany characters and unique blend of rhythm, rhyme and repetition help children learn to read, his stories about cats in hats and sneetches on beaches can really teach both the young and old some valuable morals – from the importance of reading to choosing your own path. Here are seven of the most memorable life lessons he’s taught us over the years, some of which are told in a single line, others which span over an entire story.
1. Read more
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”
This page from I Can Read with my Eyes Shut sticks in our heads as fantastic piece of advice for little ones. Books help to transport us to a different world for a while, and the more we read, the more we learn – and we all know that knowledge is a very powerful weapon indeed. We should make the most of the books we have available to us, so we’re always on the lookout for recommendations, especially for those that will enhance our knowledge on a certain subject.
2. Find your match
“We’re all a little weird and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love”
This is a little soppy, but if you have met someone you click with then this quote will definitely ring true. Every couple has their own strange, shared idiosyncrasies and personal ‘in-house’ jokes that they both find funny. When you meet someone who actually likes your weirdness and loves you anyway, you know you’re lucky. The same goes for friends; we treasure the imperfections just as much as everything else. Which leads us on to another favourite Dr Seuss quote: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”.
3. Be yourself
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You”
Quite often in life, especially during our school years, we feel like we have to conform in order to fit in. This line from Happy Birthday to You! taught us that we don’t need to strive to be anyone else other than ourselves. I am me, and that’s who I’m supposed to be! We also like his disregard of ‘proper’ grammar to achieve this wonderfully expressive language.
4. We’re all equal
“The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches, and no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches”
We love the story of The Sneetches, it’s all about two types of creatures: the star-bellied Sneetches and the plain-bellied ones. The star-bellied ones look down on the Sneetches with “no stars upon thars”, until they are offered a machine that can give them stars. The star-bellied ones no longer feel special, so they remove theirs, and this cycle continues until no Sneetch can remember which Sneetches were originally what! Children find it hysterical, but it’s also teaching them that, regardless of someone’s outwardly appearance, we can all coexist and be friends with one another.
5. Make a change
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”
Even when it comes to things like reminding ourselves to recycle, we think of this line from The Lorax. It’s easy to say: “well surely just little old me can’t make a difference”, but if everyone thought like that then we’d get nowhere. With a little compassion, individuals can shape the course of the future, and this quote reminds us to be the change we want to see in the world.
6. Live your life
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose”
Life is full of many choices, and this line is all about determining your own destiny. This line has been valuable when realising that we make our own choices in life and that we decide whether to keep toxic people in our life or not. We also like the quote: “You’re off to great places! Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” – it reminds us to be more adventurous and keep moving forward.
7. Don’t stand still
“Of course the world didn’t stand still. The world grew. In a couple of years, the new highway came through, and they built it right over those two stubborn Zax, and left them there, standing un-budged in their tracks”
This is a theme Dr Seuss often comes back to: the universal law of ‘inertia’: things keep moving around us so, no matter how stubborn we are, life goes on. He warns us that if we’re standing still, we’re likely to stay still. This quote is taken from The Zax and is about a ‘North-Going’ Zax and a ‘South-Going Zax’ who are both as stubborn as each other and refuse to budge; “I’ll stay here, not budging! I can and I will, if it makes you and me and the whole world stand still”. Of course, the world will never stand still, and this line has taught us that neither should we.
As the man himself once said: “I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells”. But, despite first glance of his books, Dr Seuss’s words are anything but nonsense. Do you have any favourite Dr Seuss life lessons that we’ve missed?
For more life lessons check out the range of Dr Seuss books we have online.