Dr. Seuss’s birthday is celebrated on March 2 and it celebrates both the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel and the National Education Association to endorse the importance of reading. A lesser-known fact about Dr. Seuss is that he created the word nerd. The first documented use of the word was in the 1950 book he wrote titled “If I Ran the Zoo” about a boy named Gerald McGrew who visits a zoo and ponders what it would be like if he ran it. So In a way, Dr. Seuss is partly responsible for nerd culture.
History of Dr. Seuss’s Birthday
Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts and his grandparents were German immigrants. He grew up around a wealthy extended family during World War I which helped shape his patriotism. As a scout, he sold War bonds and as the story goes, he sold so many that he was to be honored by President Theodor Roosevelt. When the award ceremony took place, however, Roosevelt only had nine medals leaving young Seuss without a medal. Teddy asked, “What’s this boy doing here?” and ever since Suess suffered from stage fright.
Seuss graduated from high school in 1921 and attended Dartmouth College where he joined a humor magazine called the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern. He would eventually become editor-in-chief of the publication, but when he was caught drinking he was forced to resign. This was the time of Prohibition and there was a zero-tolerance policy.
Seuss drew over 400 political cartoons during World War II for the New York daily newspaper called “PM.” Many of them were politically charged against the dictators Hitler and Mussolini and Japanese Americans were depicted as latent traitors. In them, he also showed his support of President Roosevelt and critiqued Congress and he wrote films for the U.S. Air Force.
By the 1950s, he wrote children’s books after the war in La Jolla, California under the pen name Dr. Seuss. Some of these were “The Cat in the Hat,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and “Green Eggs and Ham,” and he continued to write until his death on September 24, 1991. His legacy lives on as his beloved children’s books continue to sell well and inspire young people to read. In 1997, the National Education Association chose his birthday to celebrate reading and the first Read Across America Day was held the next year in 1998.
Dr. Seuss’s Birthday timeline
The first Read Across America Day is celebrated to inspire the next generation of readers and to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday.
The Doctor is in
Dr. Seuss wrote many of his classic books including “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Cat in the Hat.”
Seuss drew over 400 political cartoons during World War II for the NY magazine “PM.”
Seuss is born
Theodor Seuss Geissel is born in Springfield, Massachusetts into a prosperous extended family.
Dr. Seuss’s Birthday FAQs
Why do we celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday?
Dr. Seuss has made major contributions to children’s literature and nearly single-handedly made reading fun for children again.
Is Dr. Seuss’s birthday today?
If today is March 2, then we’re right on time to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday.
How old would Dr. Seuss be today if he was still alive?
If Dr. Seuss was alive today in 2020, he would be a whopping 116 years old.
How to Celebrate Dr. Seuss's Birthday
Attend a Reading Across America Day event
Many schools, libraries, and community centers in the United States participate in this day with reading activities and group readings. There are readings, student and educator videos, and further information about how to stay involved to make sure that reading remains a priority.
Your turn to learn
Read Dr. Seuss’s Books Everyone knows the memorable Dr. Seuss gems, but what about the ones that aren’t as popular? Try out a book that you haven’t read before, or one that you aren’t as familiar with. There's “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” and “The Butter Battle Book.” He's also written sequels to some of his classics like “Horton Hatches the Egg.” Expand your Seuss knowledge with a deep dive.
Write your own story
Dr. Seuss’s children’s books are filled with interesting situations and infectious rhymes. Try your hand at writing your own in the style of Dr. Seuss. Choose a subject and build a story around it with a message and a pattern that’s reminiscent of his. Challenge your family and friends to see who does it best!
Five Facts About Dr. Seuss’s Birthday
Truth or dare
Dr. Seuss wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” on a dare.
Although Dr. Seuss was an advocate for children reading, he never had any children himself.
Dr. Seuss thought that children’s books were too boring.
Critics panned the first “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” animated film.
He also wrote books for adults but they were less successful.
Why we love Dr. Seuss's birthday
He kept children reading alive
At the time, “Life Magazine” reported that children weren't reading as much. TV shows were becoming more popular and in Dr. Seuss's opinion, children's books were boring. His intention was to revitalize interest in reading with “The Cat in the Hat” and used 236 words that were considered important for first graders to learn.
It takes us back to where it all started
Everyone has a favorite Dr. Suess book. For many, they were the first books they’ve ever read. Dr. Seuss reminds us where our love of reading stems from and we can reflect on our literary journey because of him.
Life can be whimsical
With so much going on in our lives, it can be difficult to hold onto the childlike wonder. Dr. Seuss reminds us that the world can be a wondrous place if you look at it upside-down. There’s no fun in playing it safe.
Dr. Seuss’s Birthday dates