Green eggs and ham on a bet

greenWe often just read books and never think about how or why they were written, especially children’s books.  Sometimes, the reason is obvious (a book about children with diabetes, for example), but most of the time, we just think that authors are very creative and come up with a book out of thin air.  If you’ve ever written anything creative, you’ll know this isn’t true at all.  Many times, authors have been influenced by a story in the news, a world problem or just a simple picture and an idea is born out of that.  What about one of the most creative children’s authors of our time, Dr. Seuss?  It turns out that there are some interesting facts behind his books.

Bennett Cerf, Theodor Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss) editor, challenged him to write a book using 50 words or less.  He actually made this challenge when Seuss was writing The Cat in the Hat (which used 225 words) but Geisel never backed down from a challenge and wrote Green Eggs and Ham with exactly 50 different words.  Those words are:

a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

Do you think you could write a book in 50 words or less?  Although the effort seems enormous, the beautiful simplicity of this book is what has made it timeless to generations of readers.  You can find out a lot about Dr. Seuss and the ideas behind his books at Mental Floss. If you’d like to know more about the life of Dr. Seuss, Wikipedia has some great information as well as plenty of great links.  Or you can visit the official Dr. Seuss website for some fun and games here.