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Dr. Seuss provides his own special type of ABC book
on 26 April 2004
In 1954 "Life" magazine published a report about the problem of illiteracyamong the nation's school children and placed part of the blame on thefact that books that were supposed to teach children to read were boring("See Spot Run. Run Spot run. Fetch the ball, Spot"). Theodore Geisel'spublisher sent him a list of 400 words that the author was to cut to 250words, the number the publisher felt a first grader could absorb, andwrite a book. "The Cat in the Hat" uses only 220 words and made Dr. Seussan instant success with beginning readers. Eventually he would go on towrite almost four dozen books for children to read all by themselves.
Of course sooner or later Dr. Seuss was going to put out his own alphabetbook for beginning readers and in 1963 this book was published. It is, asyou would expect, more than a look at the twenty-six letters of thealphabet. Other books will tell you that "A is for Apple" and "Z is forZebra," but not Dr. Seuss because this book stars with "Aunt Annie'salligator" and ends with a "Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz." Young readers will alsoenjoy the mix of rhyme and absurdity so much that they might not noticeDr. Seuss is also showing them the difference between the big and littleversions of each letter.
As I was reading over "Dr. Seuss's ABC," a book that most definitely wantsto be read aloud to be fully enjoyed, I was wondering if I should tempermy enthusiasm by saying that this is not an ideal choice for a beginningreader's first alphabet book. After all, something simpler, in thetraditional "A is for Apple" mode might be more appropriate. But I thinkthere is something to be said for even beginning readers being confrontedwith the level of sophistication found in this book. After all, itpromotes fun as much as reading and young children might never notice thedegree to which they are being challenged.