16-Page Read: Green Eggs and Ham

It’s come to my attention that Sierra no longer wants to read books.

16-Page Read:

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

I should take that back. She’s never really wanted to read books. She’s instead sat idly by while I showed her pictures and read through the words, flipping pages for her and explaining the finer points of Where the Wild Things Are far before she could even comprehend what a book was in the first place.

Green Eggs and HamAs she’s grown older, she’s taken a liking to the book themselves – not the pages or the words or the pictures, but the solid item of matter that a book is. It’s a piece to chew on, a physical creation to pick up and hold and turn around and – especially – drop on the floor.

Sierra read books with me because she was a captive audience. The books were more for my enjoyment, serving more as a promise of things to come than a cognitive memory.

Now, she’s active. Sitting in Dad’s lap is fun for about two minutes. She likes her books to be fuzzy, soft, chewable and, most of all, quickly read.

This leaves us small chunky books, books with flaps and other movable parts, plush books that double as teething rings and books that simulate animal fur. More Sandra Boynton, less Mo Willems.

I’ve come to accept this. I still try, and she’s becoming more and more tolerant. She enjoys helping me turn the page, and if she’s in a good mood we can often read the book a second time (but never a third – don’t even dare). Of course, there are still some books that are better left for the future.

Green Eggs and Ham, for instance.

Listen, I love Dr. Seuss to death. But his books aren’t exactly the most colorful batch on the bookshelf. They’re often tri-colored with awkward looking characters and even more awkward situations. They’re weird, to say the least, in a way that a two or three-year-old would enjoy, but a nine-month old would ditch in favor of something that squeaks. They don’t translate well to the pre-year crowd, is all I’m saying.

But hey – that’s okay. When I attempt to read it to Sierra (never making it past the page introducing the box and the fox) I really read it for myself, to relive my own childhood, to revel in the words and the rhymes, the lines that I remember from longer ago than any other book I can think of. It was my first love – one that led me to purchase the cartoon retelling of Green Eggs and Ham on VHS from Best Buy knowing full well I’d never watch it and one that led me to choose it as the perfect children’s book to read during Speech class in high school.

And here’s the funny thing: it’s taken me this long to realize that Dr. Seuss’s most famous book is actually an ode to trying new things.

Yeah. I know. Pretty obvious. But I’ve always seen this book from the anti-egg/ham character’s point of view. No, I don’t want those damned sickly green-colored foodstuffs – I want a normal plate of ham and eggs and I would rather they’ve not been in anyone else’s house or next to a filthy fox. But that’s not it at all. What we’re looking at is a classic tale of “just one bite, I guarantee you’ll like it.”

It reminds me of this scene in a Calvin and Hobbes comic, where Calvin will absolutely not eat any tortellini; he absolutely hates it and refuses to even touch it if his mother cooks it. The next image, after a pregnant pause, is Calvin looking up the word tortellini in the dictionary, proving his fear of the unknown – an aversion to anything new, regardless of whether or not he knows what it is.

The moral in Green Eggs and Ham is simple. Try things once. You never know if you’ll like it if you don’t try it. And if it just so happens you absolutely hate it, then at least you’ll know firsthand.

How about that? It’s only taken me 25 years. But I’ve finally found a moral in a Dr. Seuss book.

Sierra would be so proud of her dad. That is, if she’d stop chewing on the corner of the book and listen to me.

This was lovingly handwritten on May 13th, 2008