Seven Fun Facts about Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss is one of the most popular and well-known authors of children books. Many of us grew up with his characters, his adventures, and his witty rhymes. But there are a number fascinating things you might not know about Dr. Seuss, so in honor of his birthday today, here are seven fun facts about the author.

1. Seuss’s first book was rejected 27 times

Theodor Seuss Geisel  (Dr. Seuss’s real name) and his first book, “And to Think That I saw It on Mulberry Street”, were rejected 27 times before he was finally able to find a publisher in 1937.

2. Dr. Seuss was not a real doctor.

Although Dr. Seuss did attend Oxford University to pursue a doctorate in English Literature, he eventually dropped out of school to write for a number of publications and travel across Europe.

3. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish was recently cited in a Supreme Court case!

It’s true. In last year’s Yates v. United States, Justice Elena Kagan used the beginners-level book to provide an “ordinary” example of the term “fish”:

As the plurality must acknowledge, the ordinary meaning of “tangible object” is “a discrete thing that possesses physical form.” A fish is, of course, a discrete thing that possesses physical form. See generally Dr. Seuss, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (1960).

4. You are most likely saying his name wrong.

Seuss is a German name, and should actually be pronounced “Soice” – as in, rhymes with “voice.” Apparently Dr. Seuss didn’t mind the mispronunciation, as he liked the fact that it sounded similar to “Mother Goose.”

5. He invented the word “nerd”.

In Dr. Seuss’ 1950 publication, “If I Ran the Zoo”, the main character describes what he would do if he were in charge at the zoo, claiming “I'll sail to Ka-Troo and bring back an IT-KUTCH, a PREEP, and a PROO, A NERKLE, a NERD, and SEERSUCKER, too!" It was the first recorded use of the word.

6. Dr. Seuss had other pseudonyms

Besides “Dr. Seuss”, some of his other pen names included Theo LeSieg, Rosetta Stone, and Theophrastus Seuss.

7. The Cat in the Hat was written to raise awareness for child illiteracy

We saved our favorite fun fact for last: Using just 236 words, Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat as a result of a challenge made by William Spaulding, director of Houghton Mifflin's educational division. Spaulding asked him to write a book using vocabulary that was easy enough for beginner readers.

Emily Nevitt
Emily Nevitt