Theodor Seuss Geisel was a magician. The man better known as Dr. Seuss used sleight of hand to make readers believe his seemingly silly rhymes were just that. But the good doctor’s prose, be it concerning plates of eggs or mustachioed tree-people, was deceptive. His casual couplets and nonsense words serve as a linguistic boot camp for kids. Professor LouAnne Gerken, Ph.D. offers some reasons why the good doctor’s works are so important for early childhood development.
It’s All About That Rhythm
Rhythm, per Gerken, is a vital tool for babies to understand when phrases end and begin – their first step in learning language. After they get a handle on that, rhythm helps infants develop a motor pattern. As springy, heavily rhythmic prose is one of the hallmarks of Dr. Seuss’ works, the good doctor presents a crash course in early linguistics.
English often takes on iambic pentameter (de DUM, on repeat). Other languages, such as Italian, often lend themselves to the reverse pattern (DUM de, on repeat). Dr. Seuss wrote almost exclusively in the anapest meter, (de de DUM, on repeat), and Gerken says the seemingly silly pattern serves to help children understand language more precisely.