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Impressing our children

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

 

Theodor Geisel is better known to us as Dr. Seuss.  For decades his books have sparked the imagination, tickled the funny bone, and made reading a joyful experience for both parents and children.  Anyone who has read or heard a Dr. Seuss book knows to expect outlandish characters, cartoonish illustrations, and tongue-twisting, one-of-a-kind words.  Geisel never had a problem finding a word that rhymed – if there wasn’t a word, he just made one up! 

 

But it never damaged the integrity of his writing.  You always knew how to pronounce the word (since it rhymed), and it always blended in with the rhythm and cadence of what had gone before.   And whatever else is true, Geisel’s books have rhythm and cadence!  (He wrote his first book (And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street), to the rhythm of a cruise ship’s engine).  They are meant to be read aloud.             

 

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of  The Cat in the Hat, one of the best selling children’s books of all time.  Geisel came up with the idea for the book after reading a report blaming the reading problems of children on the dull, uninteresting classroom reading books.  He determined to write a book with a limited vocabulary and aim it at the unlimited imagination of children.  He wanted to write a book that children would want to read.  As of the year 2000, The Cat in the Hat had sold 7.2 million copies while all together there have been over 200 million Seuss books sold.  I’d say he achieved his objective, wouldn’t you?

 

In the final analysis, Geisel’s books are successful because they make an impression upon an audience that is at a very impressionable age and stage of life.  Let’s face it; something will make an impression upon our children – why shouldn’t it be God and His ways?  Probably few of us are as creative as Dr. Seuss but the good news is we don’t have to be - enthusiasm, passion, compassion, and perseverance are all at least as important as creativity.  This is the idea behind Moses’ words in the passage from Deuteronomy. It doesn’t take genius to teach children; if we will consistently put God and His ways before our children, it will make an impression on them.  It is something we can do!      

 

The little boy was about eighteen months old.  He had been in cradle roll class from the time he was old enough to sit up in one of the seats.  He paid as much attention as any child that age pays when his teachers sang songs, talked of God, and interacted with them in all sorts of ways.  How much he was learning – well, who could say?  Then one afternoon while he was at home, the skies darkened as storm clouds drew near.  A bolt of lightning flashed through the sky followed by an ominous peal of thunder.  The little boy looked up from what he was doing, pointed out the window and said,

 

“NOAH!”

 

Somebody made an impression, wouldn’t you say?
 
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