Top 10 Dr. Seuss Quotes
to Teach Character
Are you looking for a way to teach good character through stories? Get started with these Top 10 Dr. Seuss Quotes to Teach Character, along with possible themes and life lessons. Currently, schools and libraries are gearing up for Read Across America, an international celebration of reading started by the National Education Association in 1998, and held annually on March 2nd, Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Many schools and libraries celebrate Read Across America for a week or more with celebrations of literacy. For example, students may present Readers Theaters, Poetry Cafes, and art projects that focus on story elements, reading comprehension, and other literacy skills. Also, many schools host book fairs or book drives, guest readers and authors, and have themed days, such as dressing as a favorite book character.
Dr. Seuss Quotes Teach Character
Though Read Across America is intended to celebrate the importance and joys of reading in general, some schools attach themes and events to the beloved author Dr. Seuss. Personally, Read Across America activities naturally brought up Dr. Seuss quotes and discussions with my elementary students about important life lessons so beautifully crafted into Dr. Seuss’s rhymes. So for students to write what each quote means to them, I made a free resource, “Dr. Seuss Quotes: What Character Lessons Can You Learn?” on my Resources page with each of my Top Ten Dr. Seuss quotes to teach character. Then there is place below each quote for students to share “I think this means…”. These are some of my favorite examples of how Dr. Seuss quotes teach character, along with just some of the possible themes and messages I relate to each quote.
“Today you are you,
that is truer than true.
There is no one alive
who is youer than you.”
—Happy Birthday to You, published in 1959
Messages from the quote: We are all unique. Celebrate yourself, or “Shout loud, “I am lucky to be what I am!”” In addition, we get to honor our individuality with authentic action. So to quote Dr. Seuss, each day can be our “Best of the Best”… “So don’t waste a minute! Hop to it! Get dressed!”
“You oughta be thankful
A whole heaping lot
For the people and places
You’re lucky you’re not.”
—Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? published in 1973
Possible messages from the quote: Choose an attitude of gratitude! You can change your perspective.
On Limitless Possibilities:
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.”
–Oh, The Places You’ll Go
Possible Lessons: We have the power to create our future. Take action on our dreams. Use your talents!
On Growth Mindset:
“The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you’ll go.”
–I Can Read with My Eyes Shut,
published in 1978
Possible Lessons: Read! Knowledge is power. Take responsibility for your learning!
On Open Mindedness:
“Young cat! If you keep
your eyes open enough,
oh, the stuff you will learn!
The most wonderful stuff!”
–I Can Read with My Eyes Shut, published in 1978
This is the more positive version of his more famous quote from this book, “There are so many things you can learn about, but you’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” Possible messages include: Be open-minded. There are learning opportunities all around us.
On Critical Thinking:
We’ve taught you that the earth is round,
That red and white make pink.
And something else that matters more–
We’ve taught you how to think.”
–Hooray for Diffendoofer Day, published in 1998
Possible lessons: It’s important that we’re critical thinkers who can think for ourselves. (In the context of this book, students may not have been taught every specific question on the test, but the thinking skills they already have can be transferred to all problem-solving situations.)
“It’s high time you were shown
That you really don’t know
All there is to be known.”
–On Beyond Zebra, published in 1955
Possible lessons: Be humble. We all get to be lifelong learners. In the context of this story, think outside the box; don’t be afraid to challenge norms.
On Taking Action:
“If we do not choose,
we will end up with NONE.”
–-What Pet Should I Get? published in 2015
Possible lessons: Make a decision! Use your voice! Making a wrong decision is better than taking no action at all.
On Being an Advocate:
I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. –The Lorax, published in 1971
Possible lessons: We get to be advocates for those without
“tongues” or voices.
On Making a Difference:
“Unless someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not.” –The Lorax, published in 1971
Possible lessons: We each have the power to make a difference.
In addition to caring, we also must take action on our passions!
Please Share with us!
Clearly, with over sixty published books, there are so many more examples of how Dr. Seuss quotes teach character. There are many I can’t include in this list while staying concise. But please share: what are your favorite Dr. Seuss quotes?