On Literacy, Dr. Seuss, and A Spirited Table®

by Derek Holser, Tastemaker in Residence

The publishing world is littered with books seldom read. The libraries and schoolrooms of America have innumerable shelves, burgeoning with page after dust-laden page of untouched stories.

Some books would remain abandoned, even if we hadn’t moved to the digital age. But we have. In point of fact, dear reader, you are not receiving this content via a document, but the electronic screen.

While the delivery of the English language has changed, the need for literacy has not. As another Presidential election is on the horizon, I’m reminded of the words of Thomas Jefferson:

“Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”

Mr. Jefferson and his friends fiercely defended the rights of the people to govern themselves, and in so doing, supported the priority of education as critical for the success of the American experiment.

About 130 years after Mr. Jefferson’s heyday and America’s birth, America’s literacy legacy was significantly boosted by the birth of an extraordinary American genius.

I’m referring to Theodor Geisel, born March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts.

You probably know him by his pseudonym:

Nearly every American child can recall his or her favorite Seuss tale or character. From the mischievous Cat in the Hat to the lovable Horton; the dastardly-but-ultimately-redeemed Grinch, and on and on. The power of his rhymes coupled with his uniquely styled illustrations gave Dr. Seuss a direct line into the hearts and imaginations of children from Tupelo to Toledo, from Seattle to Cincinnati.

His contribution to our collective literacy is nearly unparalleled, and we at The Spirited Table® encourage you to celebrate both the gifts of his work, and the gift of literacy in your own life. A core value of The Spirited Table® is the idea that life is comprised of ideas, collegially discussed and debated, in a festive atmosphere (most definitely with a plate full of delicious food).

Dr. Seuss presented difficult and complex concepts on human relations, self-esteem, and personal ambition with grace and wit. He expounded upon vices and virtues in masterful and meaningful prose. He taught us all how to read by making reading an adventure.

In the same way, I believe that thoughtful discussion based on current reading is a habit that has too often disappeared around the homes and restaurants of our country. I encourage you – have a Dr. Seuss-inspired meal soon. And read and talk and laugh. Whatever you read, remember to thank Dr. Seuss. It’s likely he played a part in giving you that gift.

If you are a risk-taker, try this delicious green eggs and ham recipe from The Food Charlatan:

So be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Branson,
Or Franklin Thomas Bartholomew Hansen,
You’re bound to enjoy this wonderful meal,
As you celebrate this day with zany zeal,

Today Dr. Seuss would turn one hundred twenty minus eight,
His enchanting words continue to enthrall – so don’t be late!

A toast to Theodor Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss,
A toast to his spirit, with your enemies declare a truce,
A toast to the many joys found in reading – now that we are able,
A toast to one and all, as you gather round your Spirited Table!