Posted July 10, 2010
"MEMORIES FROM DR. SEUSS AND THE WHITE RABBIT"
Irmgard L. Williams, sister writer and story teller, has allowed me to post an article from a new book she's working on, Gifts Galore - The Legacy We Leave Behind. Having had a peek at several stories she's included, this is my fave:
Memories From 'The White Rabbit'
My first trip to the San Diego area was marked with excitement for many reasons.
One reason was that I would make a stop at LaJolla, a few miles away, that would be like
visiting an old friend. Here the quaint book store, 'The White Rabbit' is located.
Outside the store, was a huge concrete statue of a white rabbit. Inviting enough by that, I sensed what I had been told. This was the store where Dr. Seuss usually did his first signings of many of his books after 1948 when he and his wife moved here.
Theodore Seuss Geisel was not published at first, but through much determination, he
wrote to a world of little and big children alike that were fascinated by his gift of writing.
After teaching many decades, I knew that if you don't keep it interesting, there is
little learning. Reading is the foundation that can change everything in our lives. Lucky
for me, I was blessed with primary grades. There I began, but I soon learned that the
books of Theodore Geisel were adult reading, too. OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO, has
been a gift from me to many student teachers.
Included in my curriculum, my read-alouds to the class included current authors, but
always Dr. Seuss. March gave me an opportunity for a month of learning about him, his
goals, and his quotations that are so relevant to life. He deserved a special shelf in my
classroom that would emphasize the gift of humor in stories that made us laugh. But each
book also gave us something to live by. Those quotes were carefully penned on sentence
strips that hung around the room and were easily memorized.
"A person's a person, no matter how small."
"The more that you read, the more things you will know; the more you
learn, the more places you'll go."
These quotes were appealing to my students, especially when the children began to
include him as someone they knew as a friend. When his eighty-fifth birthday came in
1990, they asked me if they could send him cards. So time was given to create a large
envelope of their hand-crafted birthday cards. In time, I received a piece of his 'cat in the
hat' stationery with a note of thanks penned by him. That just fueled their fire for reading.
I carefully copied that note and sent it home so the parents would understand its worth.
In 1991, we learned of the loss of Dr. Seuss. Carefully, the children penned notes of
condolences to his widow. It wasn't too long until we received a note of thanks from her.
Every March my new class would receive copies of these two copied notes. They would take them home with a simple explanation on the back, so parents would recall one of the authors that they had probably grown up with.
As I walked away from 'The White Rabbit' that lovely day in May of 1998, I marveled
that here lived one of the greatest children's writers of all times who took a little time to
encourage and gifted a few words to little children, and a big child at heart, too. As tears
nostalgically fill my eyes, I sensed his whisper,
"Don't cry when it's over. Smile because it happened."