Green Eggs and Ham
Oh yeah, baby. This is the real deal. There’s so much Seuss to choose from, but this was the one that I went for again and again when I was first learning to read. Sam I Am’s ‘Would you could you’ and the always-ready ‘would not could not’ response have taught a whole lot of kids to read, and are contenders for any list of the most recognized lines in the English language today. Using only 50 different words and told entirely through illustration and dialogue, it’s the fourth-best-selling kids book of all time. 50 words – that ain’t many; The Cat In the Hat, for example, uses over 200 words. But Seuss was on a mission in this regard – the book arose out of a bet between the author and his publisher-friend who thought it impossible to write a coherent book using no more than 50 words.
Theodor Seuss Geisel was his name, and he was an editorial cartoonist and advertising illustrator who also wrote World War II propaganda films, musicals, and the Oscar-winning documentary “Design for Death”. But his great love,of course, was kids books. And after a major national report on illiteracy in the mid-1950s, he was asked to write specifically for educational purposes – to try to produce a learning-book kids would want to read that used only the 250 some-odd words most important for 1st-graders to know. The result? The Cat in the Hat, which formed – with Green Eggs… and How the Grinch Stole Christmas – the great triumvirate of the Seuss world.
Let’s not even try to talk about the significance, about the ways Seuss in general and Green Eggs… in particular pervades contemporary culture. Where would we even begin? But read it again. Find some Seuss and read it aloud and you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy and want nothing more than chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk. And you’ll know.