Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

by multilingualmania on March 1, 2010

in Bilingualism

Multilingual Resources for Read Across America Day

I’ve always loved Dr. Seuss books ever since I was a small child. I love the pictures, the rhymes and the story lines. I can’t even choose which one of his books is my favorite, but I can remember clearly that his books were some of the beginning books that I learned to read as a child.

My father loves to tell the story that he bought me a set of books when I was young that contained many books by Dr. Seuss. I can remember my father reading them to me over and over and over, and I can remember feeling so proud when I was able to read many of the words by myself.

At one point my father took me to the bookstore and I saw many of the Dr. Seuss books that he had been reading to me.”Daddy, why are my books up there on the shelf? How did they get there?” I asked.

“They aren’t your books,” he claims that he explained to me. “The publishers make many of the same books and sell them to many people”.

Apparently I was so upset by this piece of news that I just flopped right on the ground into a fit of hysteria. I can remember feeling so sad for a while, because I had thought that I actually had a personal relationship with Dr. Seuss and that he had written the books especially for me.

I still have those books and I love to read them over and over again every once in a while. I also loved to read them to my students when I was a classroom teacher, reading them in both English and Spanish. Initially when I first started reading the books in Spanish to my students, I was nervous about the translation. However, I found that in many cases translators were able to capture the brilliance of the original piece and many times were able to maintain the integrity of the rhyme.

Every year around this time,  schools across the nation celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday (March 2) with a variety of literacy activities called the Read Across America Day. Parents, teachers, community member and special guests come to schools and read aloud the brilliant pieces of work written by Theodor Suess Geisel. Kids love it. Teachers love it. Parents love it. We all love it.

I was recently looking online for information about Dr. Seuss and I discovered that he was the son of German immigrants who faced discrimination during the time of World War I. You can find additional information about his biography as well as fun activities for children on the Seussville website.

Not only has Dr. Seuss touched the hearts of millions of generations of children in English, but his books have also been translated into fifteen additional languages. I conducted a brief search on Amazon and I found some of the following multilingual Dr. Seuss books:

Books in English

Books In Spanish

Books In French

Books In Chinese

Books In Japanese

Books in Korean

Books in Russian

Books in Polish

About the Author: Melanie McGrath is a bilingual education fanatic. She passionately thinks, lives and dreams about multilingual education every waking and sleeping moment of her life. Seriously. Melanie is an administrator of bilingual education programs, and considers herself to be an advocate for students, parents, teachers, and others in the struggle for quality bilingual education programs.  As founder of Multilingual Mania, she’s doing all that she can to help create a multilingual and non-racist society one day at a time.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

wenjonggal March 2, 2010 at 9:57 am

I actually bought, enthusiastically, some of the Chinese ones… and they really aren’t very good to read in Chinese, esp if they are supposed to be nonsense words and rhymes. Using a dictionary to look up every character just to find out that they are supposed homonyms to English nonsense names is really tedious and doesn’T help one’s Chinese literacy at all… no learned vocab, no characters that one will find in other texts, AND not sounds that are simple to learn… and if you have ever seen a simple English name like Rodney or Carl translated into Chinese, you will understand what I mean!

Apparently there are several different Chinese translations, but the ones we have translate literally and thus they are really NOT for beginner readers in chinese (hop on pop is definitely a beginning reader phrase in English, with rhyming, only one vowel, and two beginning consonants… in Chinese it is a long long multicharacter phrase). The online Chinese learning/beginner Chinese books store we shop at won’t carry them as the woman says the translations are bad. Glad that Spanish is better!

In English, we LOVE LOVE LOVE Dr. Seuss… who used to draw ads for really toxic bug spray! I saw originals at San Fran Cartoon Art Museum!

Karen Nemeth March 2, 2010 at 10:55 am

I agree – you have to be very careful when purchasing translated books. They are so badly needed so it’s not always easy to be choosy! I always suggest that groups or schools form a translation committee so several people have the chance to review translated materials. Here are two catalogs I use a lot:


multilingualmania March 3, 2010 at 9:34 pm

SOME of the Spanish translations are decent-but I have seen a few that could have been translated a little better. The ones that seem to be better are the ones that have more of a storyline and not so much of the nonsense words. Oh, that’s a disappointment to hear about the Chinese translations! I wonder if it is the same for the other languages.

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