Having finished both book 1 and book 2 of the Harry Potter series this week and not going back to the library until Saturday, the boys and I had the opportunity to read something else for read-aloud today. I had picked up Dr. Seuss: Young Author and Artist (Childhood of Famous Americans) and was eager to read it. Dr. Suess (aka Theodore Geisel) grew up in our very own city of Springfield. My children are well aware of this, especially in light of the large Dr. Suess Memorial Sculpture Garden that is located downtown. We also pass by the original Mulberry Street on a regular basis. So, I thought that it would be interesting reading, taking place in locations that we frequent on a regular basis. It was. The title was somewhat misleading, however - it was actually a biography of his whole life.
I think biographies and good historical fiction are a great way to learn about history, especially with children. It brings history to life and makes it much more interesting than trying to learn a series of facts and dates. In reading about Dr. Suess, we stopped for brief discussions on World War I, the Great Depression, World War II and the Cold War. All these things my children have heard of before (mostly from other stories and biographies) but each occurrence helps to reinforce the ideas and make them more aware of the world that came before them. After reading this book, both I and my children know much more about Dr. Suess. Reading it made for a very pleasant afternoon. The only caveat I would offer is that it does mention that his first wife committed suicide (which I did not know) and that Dr. Suess once wrote an adult book about "naked women." (The suicide I talked about with the boys, the adult book I skipped over - the beauty of reading aloud!)