Nearly everyone is familiar with the prolific works of Dr. Seuss, and for most of us, he was our very first favorite author. In fact, for many of us, he was even the first time we realized books had an author!
The weird and wonderful tableaus parading across every page of his books are only rivaled by his extravagant, outlandish and sometimes nonsensical (but always exactly right) use of language to create worlds so unbelievable they can’t help but feel just like real places!
Dr. Seuss’s first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was published in 1937, and he continued writing children’s books until his death in 1991, amassing a bibliography of over 60 published books for young readers.
With an established legacy of writing compelling stories that have meant so much to so many of us, it’s fitting that his final book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, published in 1990, is the quintessential graduation gift for college and elementary graduates alike.
His books have remained popular and garnered critical praise from their publication to present, and Seussville, the official website of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, continues to celebrate the work and life of Dr. Seuss.
Their website has information about special events and annual celebrations, along with providing free resources for educators to help teach Dr. Seuss in the classroom. Remember to put Dr. Seuss Day on your calendar and plan something fun and fantastical to celebrate—it’s on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, March 2nd!
Read on for 14 elementary-level writing prompts about Dr. Seuss that you can use in your classroom throughout the school year.
Would You Try Green Eggs and Ham?
This writing prompt can be done in two ways—or in two parts!
Before reading the classic Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham, ask your students what they think of the titular meal without revealing the book or author. Prepare to see a lot of confused, or even concerned, faces! Have them write about whether or not they’d like to try green eggs and ham, and make sure they include an explanation as to why.
After reading the classic Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham, ask your students whether they’d be willing to try it. Expect their faces to be less concerned and more intrigued! Have them write out their opinions, along with an explanation for why they would or wouldn’t give the verdant vittles a nibble.
You can make this prompt more interesting by offering your students real green eggs and ham to try! Eggs and ham can be dyed with added food coloring, and the classroom reaction may surprise you. If you don’t want to go all-out but still want to give green eggs a try, look for foil-wrapped miniature chocolate eggs in shades of emerald, chartreuse, jade and vert.
What Would You Change?
In the book Miss Gertrude McFuzz, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, Gertrude McFuzz is self-conscious about her one-feather tail. She knows her tail isn’t perfect, and that insecurity makes her shy and afraid to be her best self.
Ask your students to write about one thing they would change about themselves if they could change anything. After that, ask your students to write about something they love about themselves and are proud of. This will remind them to think about the traits they value in themselves and help them build more confidence, just like Gertrude McFuzz!
Mini-Biography of Dr. Seuss
There are tons of resources available about Dr. Seuss created just for kids, with books, videos, websites and more chronicling one of America’s greatest authors. Ask your students to use selected resources to learn about Dr. Seuss, and once they’ve done that, have them write a few paragraphs about what they’ve learned. Make sure they spend time sharing at least one fact they found that was especially interesting to them personally.
Bonus points if they write it in the style of Dr. Seuss, with their very own nonsense words included!
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What’s Your Favorite Dr. Seuss Book?
With over sixty books to his name, there’s enough for any classroom to allow for one unique book per student, but you’re likely to see a small collection of favorites repeated!
This writing prompt is another that’s fun to give the Thing 1 and 2 treatment, by giving the prompt before teaching about Dr. Seuss and sharing more of his books with your students, and then again after. Expect to see some young learners change their minds after they’ve learned more about this literary master while others stick with their old favorites.
Create several lists of random creatures, objects and Seussian nonsense words. Pull words from Dr. Seuss books, have your students help create the lists or use any other method you prefer. Once you have the lists, ask your students to choose 3-5 words (including at least one nonsense word) and write a poem that includes all the words.
This prompt can be combined with learning about any poetry form. Anything from acrostics to limericks to haiku or freeform poetry can be the perfect foundation for your students to build their very own Seussian dreamscapes, districts and domiciles!
Speak for the Trees
The titular Lorax from The Lorax stands up to the Onceler and speaks for the trees “for the trees have no tongues.” Ask your students to think of something that they believe should be protected but can’t speak for itself.
Next, ask them to write a letter explaining why their chosen something should be protected, with as much detail and as many reasons as they can. The something they choose to speak for can be the trees if they’d like, but it can also be a family pet, a park or another location they enjoy visiting.
What Would Make the Grinch Happy?
In How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch is bitter and cranky about the merry, Christmas-loving Whos who live in a town below the mountain where the Grinch lives in a cave, completely alone except for his pet dog, Max.
The book explains that the Grinch is like this because his heart is “two sizes too small.” Ask your students to write about what they would do to make the Grinch happy so that he could understand the importance of community and finding joy in the little things.
Explain Your Pen Name
Dr. Seuss’s given name was Theodore Seuss Geisel and despite using “Dr.” in his pen name, he left Lincoln College, Oxford without a doctoral degree. The “Dr.” in “Dr. Seuss,” he said, was a nod to his father’s hopes that he would become a doctor. Seuss was his mother’s maiden name and his middle name.
Ask your students what pen name they would choose to write under, and why they would choose that name. If there are students who don’t want to use a pen name, ask them to write about what they love about their own name!
An Essay About Persuasion
In Horton Hears a Who, no one believes the elephant Horton when he tells them about Whoville, a tiny planet on a speck of dust. While Horton can hear the Whos and knows they’re real, the other animals don’t have big enough ears to hear the Whos and instead of trusting Horton, they make fun of him.
Ask your students to write about a time when they knew something was true, but other people didn’t believe it. Were they able to convince others? If yes, how? If not, what’s another way to explain it that could make people believe them?
What Would You Ask Dr. Seuss?
Ask your students to imagine they’ll each get to have a personal lunch time with Dr. Seuss and interview him about anything they’d like to talk with him about. Have them share where they’d have lunch, what they’d have and what they’d ask Dr. Seuss to learn more about him.
Alternatively, this prompt can instead be used to have students write this out as a Seussian-style story with Dr. Seuss and themselves as characters, along with other favorite characters and memorable events from Dr. Seuss books. Bonus points for including Seussian nonsense words to really set the tone!
There Are Two Types of Sneetches (and Both Deserve Kindness)
In the book Sneetches and Other Stories, there are two types of Sneetches. One type has stars on their bellies and the other doesn’t. The two different types of Sneetches don’t like each other for the simple reason that they’re different.
Ask your students to write about the conflict between the star-belly Sneetches and the plain-belly Sneetches. Does either side make a good point? Do your students see a solution to this conflict that the Sneetches might be missing?
Name Your Wockets!
There’s a Wocket in My Pocket follows a child who gives the reader a house tour, pointing out all the strange creatures that live in the house. This includes creatures such as the noothgrush standing on the toothbrush and the yeps on the steps. Rather than being afraid of the creatures, the boy likes them (mostly) and appreciates their uniqueness.
Giving names to things that are unknown, confusing or annoying can be a helpful way to begin understanding these things. Ask your students to write about the “creatures” that live in their house or somewhere else they spend time. These can range from the spooky, scary basement door at a relative’s house to the sense of frustration they feel when the bell rings to signal recess is over.
There’s No Cat Without the Hat
The Cat from The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back and many more (with a total of nine books in the series) is known for his iconic red and white stovepipe hat.
Ask your students to write about the item of clothing they’re most known for wearing. If they don’t know what their most well-known item of clothing is, they can ask the rest of the class to identify their most iconic sartorial choice, or they can write about an item of clothing they would most want to be known for wearing!
Which Dr. Seuss Book Would You Move Into?
Once your classroom is familiar with the many, many popular and wondrous books of Dr. Seuss, ask them to write about which book they would most want to live in. Would they enjoy living in the Kingdom of Binn or the Jungle of Nool? What about the Pompelmoose Pass or the Mystic Mountain Neeka-Tave? If they’re not interested in moving there, which Dr. Seuss setting would they most like to visit on vacation?
Help Your Students Publish Their Own Seussian Stories!
You can help your class create their very own Seuss-themed classbook and become published authors by using one of our FREE classbook publishing kits! Simply sign up online, and we’ll provide everything you need to publish your students’ writing and illustrations, including any help you need along the way.
Any of the prompts above are the perfect starting place for beginning to brainstorm about your classbook project—and you won’t believe the places you’ll go from there! Each of your students will contribute one page of writing and one page of illustration to help create something so much more than the sum of its parts—you’ll get a free classroom copy, and parents can also order copies to keep at home as a literary time capsule and keepsake for the future.
You can also check out our blog and online Teacher’s Lounge for more writing activities, lesson plans and teaching strategies. Now that you’ve added more ideas to your own list of Dr. Seuss writing prompts, you’re ready to help inspire your students to follow in the fun and many-footed steps of everyone’s first favorite author!