Feature

The politics of Dr. Seuss

Liberal—and conservative?—symbolism in Theodor 'Dr. Seuss' Geisel's children's books

Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel was a lot of wonderful things, said John Miller in National Review, but he “certainly wasn't a conservative. 'The Lorax' is a parable of anti-capitalism and 'The Butter Battle Book' is a peacenik's morally equivalent take on the Cold War.”

My favorite Dr. Seuss book, "The Sneetches," said Jim Letzelter in the Albany, N.Y. Times-Union, is definitely more than just "fluff and fun," as are many of Geisel's timeless children's books. "'The Sneetches' is not only entertaining to kids, but teaches tolerance and how to deal with racism."

Geisel's politics drifted leftward as he got older, said Lisa Schiffren in National Review. But "Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose" puts in a good word for conservatives by telling what happens to productive types who give free rides to those less responsible—and "the majority of Dr. Seuss' work has no politics embedded" at all.

It's hard to read anything political into lines like, "I do not like you, Sam I Am," said the parenting blog Mom Logic. But it's undeniable that many Seuss works addressed social and political issues. "The Lorax" expresses the fear that humans are destroying nature. Geisel would have been 105 on March 2, but many readers still don't know that his 60 children's books are filled with political symbolism.

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