You may have heard that Dr. Seuss was in the news recently. Depending on your perspective, you agree it’s prudent to stop publishing books featuring definitely racist imagery or you think doing so is cancel culture run amok. As we noted at the time, it’s not a very effective cancellation, as all six of the banned Dr. Seuss books are still for sale online. However, we’re not getting into any of that controversy in this post. Instead, we’re simply here to focus on the best of the rest, that is, the best Dr. Seuss books you can still turn to for reliable children’s stories.
Dr. Seuss wrote about 50 children’s books before his death in 1991. If the hundreds of millions of sales over decades can be trusted, he’s one of the most beloved American authors of the 20th century. You probably grew up with at least one Dr. Seuss book, which are filled with fantastical characters and settings from his vibrant imagination. Many adults have a sentimental connection to their favorite Seuss books. Many of his stories feature timeless themes like kindness, saying sorry and respecting the environment.
So without further ado, here are some of the best Dr. Seuss books you can still buy, with our favorites featured at the top. To this day, these titles are consistently among the best-selling Dr. Seuss books and are well-reviewed for all the reasons you think they would be. And beyond that, there’s the simplest test of all: These books have proven to be enjoyable for countless kids, and they’re still great reads for any young ones in your life today.
Thanks to the surging interest in Dr. Seuss, popular titles like The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat and Oh the Places You’ll Go! have been topping best-sellers lists on sites like Amazon. Unfortunately, many of them are either out of stock or going out of stock on popular online book retailers. So if you want any of these books, whether for your kids, to give as a gift or just for your own enjoyment, then don’t wait any longer!
Without further ado, we present the best Dr. Seuss books for kids and grown-ups alike.
1. The Lorax
The Lorax has only become more timely and relevant since its initial publication in 1971. It’s a story about the humble Lorax confronting the capitalistic Once-ler who destroys the Lorax’s environment in his pursuit of profit. It’s an absolute classic and a surefire way to teach young kids about the dangers of overusing the natural environment. More recently, The Lorax movie helped introduce this classic to a new generation.
2. Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
A classic school graduation gift, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was Dr. Seuss’s last published book before his death, and it remains one of his best. It follows an unnamed protagonist through a variety of colorful landscapes and places before arriving at “The Waiting Place.” The book ends with the protagonist thinking of all the places he might go, leaving the book open-ended, like life itself.
3. Green Eggs and Ham
It’s Green Eggs and Ham. Do we have to say more? No other Dr. Seuss book covers the subject of trying new things quite as well as Green Eggs and Ham. It’s all thanks to the persistence of Sam-I-Am, who insists on offering green eggs and ham to a character who says he does not like them. This book also features a wonderful example of the fun, rhyming syntax that Dr. Seuss is known for.
4. Horton Hears a Who!
If you dig the environmentalism of The Lorax, you’ll love the humanism of Horton Hears a Who! The story, which follows the elephant Horton as he discovers and saves the tiny people of Whoville, is best-known for one particular line that captures the essence of the story, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” As captured in that line, the book teaches kids that all people are important and valuable, no matter their status in life. Like The Lorax, this book was also adapted into an animated movie in recent years.
5. The Cat in the Hat
If there’s one Dr. Seuss book you know, it’s The Cat in the Hat. It’s true the book has not escaped the recent controversy around racist images in Dr. Seuss books. Some critics have suggested the titular character is derived from imagery associated with blackface and American minstrel shows, which Dr. Seuss performed in as a student. However, the children’s book remains one of the most popular Dr. Seuss books for its wild story about two kids stuck at home on a rainy day. The kids are joined by an anthropomorphic cat in a hat who starts entertaining them and destroying their home. It’s absurd, it’s readable and we’d bet that your kids will still enjoy the story, even if the Cat’s appearance was arguably, perhaps even subliminally, influenced by the racist stereotypes of the time.
6. Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
This one might not ring a bell, but it’s one of the best Dr. Seuss books to help put things in perspective. Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? consists of stories, as told to an unnamed listener by a wise old man, featuring unfortunate situations, ultimately reminding us all how (comparatively) lucky we are. Pandemic-aside, we can’t think of a more relevant Dr. Seuss book for people finding their way in this mixed up world.
7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Perhaps more famous for the played-every-Christmas 1966 TV special, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! easily contends for the title of Dr. Seuss’s most famous work. But the TV special couldn’t be a classic without the original book, which tells the story of a grouchy, green creature who tries to ruin Christmas for the residents of Whoville, only to discover the power of love and save Christmas.
8. Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book
Forever popular for its emphasis on the importance of sleep — and for actually being a good book to read to kids before bed — Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book is a must-have on your shelf if you’re regularly reading to put kids to sleep.
9. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
For one of Dr. Seuss’s goofier stories, we love The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. The story follows medieval peasant Bartholomew Cubbins, who has a new hat poof onto his head every time he removes the previous hat. This displeases King Derwin, who seeks to punish him for failing to remove his hat in the king’s presence. While there are probably some themes one could pull out from the book, it’s mostly just wonderfully absurd, with Dr. Seuss in early peak form.
10. Bartholomew and the Oobleck
About a decade after the first Bartholomew Cubbins book, Dr. Seuss followed it up with Bartholomew and the Oobleck. This tale occurs in the same Kingdom of Didd as the previous story, but this time Bartholomew has to confront the sticky, gelatinous Oobleck falling from the sky. With a more direct lesson than some other Dr. Seuss books, this book teaches the importance of saying sorry when one makes a mistake.
11. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish is a perennial kids’ favorite for its simple story about two kids and the creatures who are their friends and pets. It’s a great book for beginning-level readers and the creatures are as wild as you’d expect from the likes of Dr. Seuss.
12. Hop on Pop
Hop on Pop is the perfect book for introducing kids to reading, thanks to its short, easy-to-comprehend stories on different characters.
13. Dr. Seuss’s ABC
If you are buying for a beginner-level reader, definitely pick up a copy of Dr. Seuss’s ABC. Distinct memories can improve learning and we can’t think of anything more distinct and memorable to accompany learning the alphabet than the zany creatures in this book, including Aunt Annie’s Alligator and the Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz.
14. Happy Birthday to You!
We all remember how important birthdays were when we were younger. Not that kids need reminding of how important their birthdays are, but Happy Birthday to You! will do just that when they read this book, which basically describes the best birthday party ever in honor of the reader. If you’ve ever heard the line, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you,” it comes from this great book.