Author (Your Name)

Nicole HewesFollow

Date of Award


Document Type

Senior Scholars Paper (Open Access)


Colby College. Education Program


Mark Tappan

Second Advisor

Tarja Raag

Third Advisor

Laurie Raag


In this Senior Scholars project I wanted to demonstrate that Dr. Seuss books are much more than just nonsense verse. For the first part of my project, I familiarized myself with all of his texts and scrutinized his use of language in a textual analysis. By scrutinizing Geisel’s use of language and wordplay, I hoped to isolate some characteristics that make a Seuss book different from other types of stories and texts. The second part of my project was an empirical study that tested what influence reading a real Seuss text versus a fake Seuss text has on students’ performance on a reading comprehension task. I tested the impacts of Geisel’s language use by de-Seussifying two Dr. Seuss stories – that is, by breaking apart his rhymes (and other poetic devices like alliteration, consonance, etc), and turning the lines into un-rhyming prose while retaining as much of the original diction as possible. My expectation was that the language in the original Dr. Seuss texts influences the students’ abilities to answer higher-order comprehension questions (inferential and evaluative). If Seussian language does indeed lead to greater levels of reading comprehension and enjoyment with reading, these findings could have great implications for theorizing how to make young children more engaged and critical readers.


literacy, Dr. Seuss, poetry, language, text features

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