Blog – Posted on Wednesday, May 01
22 Best Dr. Seuss Books: the Essential Shelf for All Readers
Everyone, at some point or age, has read Dr. Seuss. To open one of his books is to step into an impossibly vivid world of creativity. In fact, the most iconic name in children’s literature began as a pen name: Theodor Seuss Geisel adopted it while writing for Dartmouth College’s school newspaper. The rest is history, as Geisel abandoned his degree in literature to pursue a career as a children’s author, penning more than 100 of the most beloved children’s books of all time.
Though it’s a joy to read each and every one of his books, this post has gathered the 22 best Dr. Seuss books for anyone simply wants his biggest hits. To make it easier for you to locate exactly what you want, we’ve ordered them by age range below, so feel free to jump to whichever section is most appropriate!
- Bright and Early Books for Beginning Beginners: Ages 0-3
- Beginner Books: Ages 3-5
- Growing Reader: Ages 5-8
- All Ages: Everyone!
Bright and Early Books for Beginning Beginners
1. The Foot Book
“Wet foot, dry foot. Low foot, high foot.” Who knew that there were so many different kinds of feet — or that a whole book as charming and amusing as The Foot Book could be written on the subject? Dr. Seuss’ rhyming is on point in this book that was meant for the earliest of readers, as are his quirky illustrations. Best of all, it’s on a topic that all children are sure to understand: feet.
Select Quote: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own.”
2. Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?
Another selection for bookworms to-be, Dr. Seuss takes early readers through the wonderful world of onomatopoeia the only way that he knows how: whimsically. If you’re a parent who’s reading out loud to your kids, be prepared to make a lot of different sound effects. That’s because, from blurp blurp and dopp dopp dopp to buzz, this book will cover all of the noises that you know — and even some that you don’t.
Select Quote: “Moo moo! Hoo hoo! Cock-a-doodle-doo! Oh, the wonderful sounds Mr. Brown can do.”
3. There’s a Wocket in My Pocket!
Spoiler alert: there’s not only a wocket in your pocket, but also a Geeling on the ceiling and a zelf on your shelf. The only way to find out where exactly the rest of these mysterious creatures lurk is by reading this delightful picture book — out loud! Imaginative children will particularly like this introduction to the wonderfully odd creatures that fill Dr. Seuss’s pages.
Select Quote: “All those Nupboards in the Cupboards they're good fun to have about. But that Nooth gush on my tooth brush... Him I could do without.”
4. The Cat in the Hat
What do you get when you put two bored kids and a talking cat in an unsupervised house? Well, a really wacky afternoon of fun, for one! The Cat in the Hat is perhaps one of Seuss’ most magical books and he even admitted that it’s a personal favorite, saying: “It is the book I'm proudest of because it had something to do with the death of the Dick and Jane primers.” Take it from us: no childhood is complete without a visit from the Cat in the Hat, Thing One, and Thing Two.
Select Quote: “I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.”
5. The Cat in the Hat Comes Back
Didn’t get enough of the Cat in the Hat the first time around? Good. Because it’s just as the tin says: the Cat in the Hat COMES BACK in an epic sequel. This time, he’s up to no good by bringing in a big pink stain with him when he invites himself into Dick and Sally’s home and bathes in their bath. Just how will Dick and Sally manage to clean up the mess before the parents get home? If you’re up for more (more trouble, more fun, more problems, and many more cats), this is your book.
Select Quote: “That cat is a bad one, That Cat in the Hat.”
6. Green Eggs and Ham
One of the most iconic children’s books ever was the outcome of a wager between Seuss and Bennett Cerf, the co-founder of Random House. The latter bet that Seuss couldn’t write a book using only 50 unique words or fewer. (Guess who lost?) Thusly was Green Eggs and Ham born — a story in which the narrator seriously does not like green eggs and ham. And even though the narrator could not, would not in a tree, you might just find that children could and would read this charming book all the time — you’ll see.
Select Quote: “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.”
7. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, what are you doing not giving this book a whish? Jay and Kay are the stars of this story, along with their pets, who are (as you might expect) mostly fish. The simple rhymes are enormously catchy and we make no guarantee that they won’t get stuck in your head for hours on end. Great for beginners and children who love pets!
Select Quote: “From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”
8. Dr. Seuss's ABC
Dr. Seuss pulls off one more impressive magic trick with this book: he shows that the alphabet can be fun. He whips out all of the wonderful tricks and talents in his hat to accomplish this feat, including the invention of new words! Case in point: “Zizzer-zazzer-zuzz.” So if you’re in the middle of teaching a kid the alphabet (or simply craving some good alliteration), look no further than Dr. Seuss’s ABC.
Select Quote: “David Donald Doo dreamed a dozen doughnuts and a duck-dog, too.”
9. Fox in Socks
Per the note that comes with this book: “This is a book you READ ALOUD to find out just how smart your tongue is. The first time you read it, don't go fast! This Fox is a tricky fox. He'll try to get your tongue in trouble.” We’d heed this warning seriously, because some of the tongue-twisters in this book have tangled our tongues in two. This is the go-to book for kids to practice pronunciation — for a reason!
Select Quote: “My tongue isn't quick or slick, sir. I get all those ticks and clocks, sir, mixed up with the chicks and tocks, sir. Who sees who sew whose new socks, sir?”
10. Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!
As we all know, there's no limits when it comes to the bounds of a child's imagination! And yet, Dr. Seuss still manages to push boundaries in this whimsical book that gallops along with no plot and plenty of silliness. Complete with little monsters that are even more imaginative than usual, and made-up words that encourage children to interpret themselves, this is a worthy tribute to the power of imagination.
Select Quote: “Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try!”
11. My Book About Me by Me Myself
As you can probably guess, “ME” is a prominent character in this book! Its title is extremely literal: My Book About Me by Me Myself is an activity book that encourages children to write (or draw) their own biography. A task might include anything from “draw a self-portrait” to “get your mailman’s signature” — suffice to say, it’s still filled with Dr. Seuss’ stalwart spirit of fun. Bonus: it could even make a great interactive activity for the whole family.
Select Quote: “If the Grinch ever took all of MY presents, I’d cry boo-hoo!”
12. Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
One day, Dr. Seuss came back home and found that the wind had fortuitously blown the papers on his desk into such a position that it looked like an elephant sitting in a tree. The end result was Horton Hatches the Egg, one of Dr. Seuss’s most popular books. Containing one of Seuss’s most delightful plots, it tells the story of Horton, every kid's favorite elephant, helping his friend Mayzie the bird out by sitting on her egg while she takes a "break." Of course, Mayzie’s “break” turns into a permanent retirement plan in Palm Beach, which means that Horton is stuck hatching the egg — and having adventures of his own!
Select Quote: “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful one-hundred percent!”
13. Horton Hears a Who
One of the staples in Dr. Seuss’ massive list of children’s book masterpieces. Our friend Horton the elephant is back, and this time he seems to hear a cry of help coming from a very, very tiny speck of dust. But he’s in a spot of trouble: no-one else can hear the cry and thus no-one believes Horton when he says that the Whos need help. This heartwarming story is beautifully communicated and deserves its place amongst most kids’ catalog of all-time favorite books.
Select Quote: “A person's a person, no matter how small.”
14. The Butter Battle Book
Beyond the sounds, rhymes, and illustration, quite a few of Dr. Seuss’ books are highly moralistic and deal with serious subjects matters. This is one of them. On one side of the war in this book, there are the Yooks — and on the other, the Zooks. And they’re waging battle over whether or not to eat their bread with the butter-side up or butter-side down! But the fight between them soon escalates into an arms race, which is when Seuss gets serious about nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction.
Select Quote: “Our slingshots have failed. That was old-fashioned stuff. Slingshots, dear boy, are not modern enough.”
15. Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book
Warning: you should probably read this book in bed, as it’s nigh impossible not to yawn while flipping through its pages. Case in point — we yawned just thinking about it. As for what it’s about, no-one really knows because all readers are asleep by page three. Just kidding! The Sleep Book is actually the story of a very small bug named Van Vleck and the menace of contagious yawns. But the main thrust of this book is to put kids to sleep, and to that end, we’d say that Dr. Seuss succeeded magnificently.
Select Quote: “This Book Is to be Read in Bed.”
16. Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose
Meet Thidwick, Dr. Seuss’ most lovable moose. Except that Thidwick has a tiny flaw: he’s far, far too generous. First it’s a Bingle Bug who comes and asks for a ride on his antlers, and then it’s a tree spider, a Zinn-a-zu Bird, an entire squirrel FAMILY — when will Thidwick be able to rest? Perhaps when he learns to be kind to himself first and foremost, which is what this lovely book — one of Dr. Seuss’ finest — teaches children of all ages.
Select Quote: “There's room there to spare, and I'm happy to share!”
17. "Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories"
If you can’t get enough of Horton and friends, pick up this short story collection to save the day. Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories is a collection of four stories that weren’t published until after Dr. Seuss died in 1991. What’s even better is that it’s not only Horton who makes a return: other beloved characters such as Marco from And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and the Grinch feature in their own stories as well.
Select Quote: “‘The climb,’ sighed poor Horton, ‘Will kill me, no doubt. But a deal IS a deal, and I cannot back out.’”
18. And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street
The book that started it all! Dr. Seuss conceived of And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street on a ship in 1936. But upon the manuscript’s completion, nearly 20 publishers rejected the draft. Luckily, Vanguard took the bait and published it to enormous success. The book that made Dr. Seuss’s name is just as magical as his later ones, especially when you consider its seemingly simple premise: a story about a boy who cooks up increasingly elaborate fantasies on his walk home one day on (where else?) Mulberry Street.
Select Quote: The story would really be better to hear. If the driver I saw were a charioteer.”
19. How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Reader, meet the Grinch. Also known as the grumpiest green Thingamabob in literary history, the Grinch is determined to put an end to Christmas once for all. That’s because, if he can’t have fun, no child can. Not super fair, right? But we should thank our lucky stars, because it resulted in one of the most beloved classics of our times — and we daresay that it might be one of Dr. Seuss’ best works. Read to find out why.
Select Quote: “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”
20. Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Otherwise known as the perfect de facto graduation present, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is the ideal antidote to anyone who’s stuck at a crossroads in life. From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs, our intrepid young narrator jumps over hurdles to explore the world. Fittingly, this was the final book that was published in Seuss’ lifetime — his last gift for us, containing all of his inspirational charm and love of life. The rhymes might be simple, but the message is profound and the quotes, timeless.
Select Quote: “Today you are you, that is truer than true.”
21. The Lorax
When Dr. Seuss loses his silliness and gets serious, you know that you have to sit up and listen. This is the case with The Lorax, a book about nature that was far ahead of its time. For Dr. Seuss imagines a world of pollution within it — a vision brought home by its powerful grey, bleak illustrations that so contrast with his typical brand of bright fun. Simply put, this simple book might be one of the most moving messages about environmentalism ever, and it’s a must-read for everyone everywhere.
Select Quote: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
22. You’re Only Old Once: a Book for Obsolete Children
In which Dr. Seuss does the impossible: he packs all of his whimsy, silliness, and imagination into the act of aging — and makes getting old funny! Indeed, 70-year-old Everyman probably doesn’t want to go to The Golden Years clinic, but go he must in order to get his regular check-up. From that point on, from the Eyesight Test to the various other exams that he has to undergo, every page is a riot (and a brilliant satire). Dr. Seuss lovingly wrote this book for a time that all of us must encounter, sooner or later.
Select Quote: “When at last we are sure you've been properly pilled, then a few paper forms must be properly filled so that you and your heirs may be properly billed.”