For breakfast this morning it's green eggs and ham
He wasn't a doctor, and Seuss wasn't his last name, but there can be little doubt that one of the most influential children's book figures of the 20th century was Theodor Geisel -- AKA Dr. Seuss, Dr. Theophrastus Seuss and Theo LeSieg. The characters he created have become a permanent part of the American image (and some of the words he created -- grinch, nextly and nerd -- are now part of our venacular). Who doesn't know what a Grinch is? What person under the age of 50 hasn't read "The Cat in the Hat"? No other author in history has sold more books than Dr. Seuss. In fact, only the Bible has sold more copies than Seuss has worldwide.
While being a popular children's book author or illustrator may be enough to ensure immortality in the book world, popularity is not enough to ensure that such a figure will be remembered for his influence on the world beyond just the readers of children's books. If to achieve that status, the work of an author or illustrator must be seen to have had a positive impact upon society in general, then there really is no 20th century figure who can compare to Dr. Seuss. His popularity is worldwide. His characters have lives of their own. What Geisel managed to do was to entertain the child as he conveyed a subtle moral message. The Sneetches tell the child that everyone is equal, the Lorax sounds an ecological alarm, "The Butter Battle Book" warns rhe reader about war, the Horton books praise loyalty, and Yertle the Turtle has to face the consequences of his dictatorial ways. But there's more.
Many educators believe that Seuss revolutionized the teaching of reading. "The Cat in the Hat" brought the basic concepts of reading to tens of thousands of children who were learning to read without being taught. The challenge of writing an entire book using only 220 different words and making the book enjoyable was enormous (yet his bestselling "Green Eggs and Ham" was written as a result of a bet that he couldn't write a book using 50 or fewer distinct words). It was a distinct departure from the traditional Dick and Jane type readers. Teachers found that it especially motivated inner-city students and slower readers.
His simple stories are in contrast with his books' bibliographical complexity. Identifying his first editions can be mind-boggling. For example, in "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins" one of several points that identify the first edition is that all the hats shown on the front pastedown and front free endpaper diminish in size from left to right -- later editions had it just the opposite. A first edition of "McElligot's Pool" has to have four distinct characteristics. For Seuss collectors, "Oh, the Places You'll Go" should lead to Helen and Marc Younger and Dan Hirsch's "First Editions of Dr. Seuss Books." Otherwise, trying to identify Seuss first editions is just hunches and bunches.