Dr. Seuss lovers are abuzz this week for a number of reasons. Not only did we celebrate his 111th birthday, we also learned of a new Seuss story that hits bookstores this summer. The manuscript (called “What Pet Should I Get?”) was found in a box in his home not long after his death in 1991, reports the The New York Times. It’s believed that the famously quirky children’s writer penned the story at some point between 1958 and 1962.
In the books he did publish, Dr. Seuss (real name Theodor Seuss Geisel) was a genius when it came to hiding profound messages just under the surface of whimsical rhymes, made-up words and dazzling illustrations. According to Dr. Seuss himself, nonsense is a necessary ingredient in life that allows you to look at life “through the wrong end of a telescope.”
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells,” he famously said. “Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
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In the spirit of nonsense, here’s a list of three valuable life lessons gleaned from our favorite Dr. Seuss books.
“The Sneetches” – Be proud of who you are
If the sneetches taught us one thing, it was the importance of not conforming. The story follows a clan of imaginary creatures all striving to ascend through the ranks of class and social status. While star-bellied sneetches live the good life filled with frankfurter roasts and marshmallow toasts, those with no stars go without. But the social dynamic is flipped on its head with the invention of a machine that can stamp any old nobody with a star on the belly; thus diminishing its value. At its heart, it’s a story about celebrating the things that make you different – instead of stifling them to fit in with everybody else.
“Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” – Trust life to take you where you’re meant to go
There’s a reason this Seuss classic is a go-to gift for grads. This not-so-subtle tale of what awaits all of us in the adult world couldn’t be more spot on. The narrator warns that while most of us come out of the gate optimistic and determined, it’s only a matter of time before we encounter “bang-ups and hang-ups.” The powerful message here is to get back up, and to have faith in where life is taking you. When uncertain things happen (as they inevitably will) you needn’t worry. “Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.”
“The Lorax” – Take care of the earth
“The Lorax” is perhaps the most obviously relevant Dr. Seuss book of our time. The story is a cautionary tale of the terrible things that happen when you strip your environment of its natural resources. In the case of “The Lorax,” it’s those luscious and rare truffula trees that bring out the greedy, money-hungry folks. It doesn’t take a genius to see the parallels between today’s world and the questionable, destructive lengths the book’s antagonist goes to in order to cash in on these trees. The glaring, overarching moral of the story is more of a question than anything else: what will happen when that resource eventually runs dry? And how will the world recover from the damage?