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10 Surprising Facts About Dr. Seuss You May Not Know

by Julie Ryan Evans on February 27, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Dr. SeussToday in car line, I saw the kindergartners at my son's school walk by with tall red and white striped hats atop their heads and was reminded of the big upcoming day -- Dr. Seuss's birthday. This Friday, March 2, would have been his 108th birthday; and still today more than 20 years after his death, he delights readers young and old.

Okay, he also pisses some off too, like those who believe his work is filled with leftist propaganda, but most of us have grown up with his books, and now read them proudly to our own children. His work, like that of few others, has passed the test of time, and only gets better as the years go by. While many of us know the words of his books by heart, however, we may not know much about the man behind the words -- Theodor Seuss Geisel, "Ted," to his friends and family. Here are 10 surprising facts about Dr. Seuss you may not know:

1. He was no saint. In his senior year at Dartmouth, he got busted drinking gin with his buddies. It was in 1925 during prohibition, and he was placed on probation.

2. He wasn't a doctor. He pursued a PhD. in English, but never finished it. He did receive several honorary degrees in his lifetime, however.

3. His first book was "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street."  It was finally published in 1937 after being turned down a reported 27 times. His grandparents lived on Mulberry Street.

4. He had no biological children of his own, but invented an imaginary one named Chrysanthemum-Pearl that he used to brag about.

5. "Green Eggs and Ham" contains only 50 different words. He wrote it after a publisher bet him he couldn't write a book with so few words. Dr. Seuss won ... as did we all.  

6. One his more obscure books, "The Butter Battle Book" was pulled from library shelves for some time because it referred to the Cold War and the arms race.

7. He based the Grinch character on himself. In 1957, he told Redbook, "I wrote the story about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost."

8. He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts.

9. "If I Ran the Zoo" holds the distinction of being the first published record of the word "nerd."

10. In all, he wrote and illustrated 44 children's books in his lifetime. Today, there are more than 200 million copies of those books around the world.

What are your favorite fun facts about Dr. Seuss? Which of his books are your favorite?

Image via katerha/Flickr


  • coffe...


    February 27, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    love dr. seuss. I'm going to tell my kids about the "nerd" thing. They will like that.

  • Jane
    -- Nonmember comment from


    February 28, 2012 at 12:13 AM
    A trunk full of pot and unpublished or original copies of stories was found among his posessions after his death. Funny thing is, unless I've read the book recently I can never read it aloud after smoking. I get too lost in the story, lol!
  • Rebec...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Rebecca Peterson

    February 28, 2012 at 2:21 AM

    We tried making a drinking game out of "Fox in Socks." Everytime you got confused you had to take a shot. It's a bad idea.

  • jagam...


    February 28, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    We love Dr. Seuss. I'm not sure what my favorite is though. We have a fun seuss filled day planned on Friday for his birthday.  :)

  • PonyC...


    February 28, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    We have lots of them. When I worked for the Nature Center, we had a program for the younger set based on The Lorax, which was cool. Our family's favorite, though, is Fox in Sox. I'm even using it to practice Braille!

  • Samantha
    -- Nonmember comment from


    February 28, 2012 at 11:28 AM
    My favorites were "The Sneetches and Other Stories" and "The Happy Birthday Book." Fun fact, the librarian told my daughter and me last week that Dr. Seuss pronounced his name "Soiss."
  • Sid...
    -- Nonmember comment from

    Sid Kingfish

    February 28, 2012 at 12:09 PM
    Dr. Seuss lived around the corner from my parents above La Jolla country club. We all used to wave when we saw his wife bombing down the hill in her old forest green Cadillac El Dorado with "GRINCH" on the plate.
  • ltf124


    February 28, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    go dog go is my favorite book

  • Caela...


    February 28, 2012 at 8:05 PM
    While living in La Jolla he spent time at the San Diego Zoo. Much of his inspiration for the animals came from his time there. My daughter and I go to that same zoo quite often and I love knowing that we are spending time in a place that helped bring such amazing stories to life.
  • Casey...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Casey Frost Randolph

    February 29, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    Horton Hears a Who and Yertle the Turtle are my favorites, I read them to my class every year and my boys got stuck on Yertle the Turtle about 2 months ago, we had to read it every night!

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