Theodor Seuss Geisel? Anita Merina? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: There is an enthusiastic quotation about reading that has been attributed to the famous children’s author Dr. Seuss:
You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book & read to a child.
I haven’t been able to track down the precise book in which this was written. Would you please help?
Quote Investigator: This verse was written in a style reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, the pen name of Theodor Seuss Geisel. However, QI believes that it was not actually constructed by him.
In March 1998 a guest columnist in “The Augusta Chronicle” printed a poem containing the lines above and credited Anita Merina who was a staff member of the National Education Association (NEA). Merina’s poem was part of a campaign called “Read Across America” designed to encourage children and adults to read: 1
It’s never too cold, too wet or too hot
To pick up a book, and share what you’ve got
You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild
To pick up a book, and read to a child.
In churches and chambers, let’s gather round
Let’s pick up a book, let’s pass it around
There are children around you, children in need
Of someone who’ll hug, someone who’ll read
So join us March 2nd in your special own way
And make this America’s read to Kids Day.
—Anita Merina, 1997
This poem says it all! The members of the Richmond County Association of Educators, the student Georgia Association of Educators and the National Education Association invited everyone to join a nationwide reading effort on March 2 to celebrate the birthday of the late, beloved Dr. Seuss.
The nationwide effort, called “Read Across America,” originated with NEA’s collaboration with Dr. Seuss’ widow to focus America’s attention on the importance of reading in our children’s lives. It was a great success.
The poem has been closely associated with the name of Dr. Seuss as shown in the excerpt above; hence, confusion and misattribution were understandable.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1998 March 9, Augusta Chronicle, Guest Column: National event celebrated importance of reading, by Gretchen Simpson of Augusta (National Education Association director of Georgia), Quote Page 5A, Column 1, Augusta, Georgia. (GenealogyBank) ↩