Harry Potter vs. Dr. Seuss

It’s an absurd question really — an apples and oranges comparison, but I’ll ask it anyway:

Harry Potter books or Dr. Seuss books - which have had the most impact on kids’ reading?

And, since this is my blog, I’ll post my answer to this question first:

I believe that books by Dr. Seuss have had the greatest impact on children’s reading. Dr. Seuss books enfused the experience of parents and children reading together with a level of pleasure that had never existed before in books for early readers. How many of us have happy memories of sharing a chair with a parent and turning pictures and hearing those funny rhymes until the day came that when our parents were called away, we could continue to sit and turn those pages and read the story ourselves. Implanting the idea that reading = pleasure and learning to read could be fun has increased the desire to read in multiple generations now thanks to Dr. Seuss

I do not mean to take anything away from J.K. Rowling’s contribution to children’s literature. The idea that a book release could be a media event and book reading would be a shared experience across generations and cultures is phenomenal. But it built upon us already having a desire to read and Dr. Seuss was essential for that. Therefore my vote is that Dr. Seuss books have played a greater role in children’s reading today.

Feel free to post your opinion to the question: Harry Potter books or Dr. Seuss books which have had the most impact on kid’s reading? in the comments below.


If you’d like to provide a guest blog post on the topic (with brief author bio, linking to your website), then email me at Anne at AboonBooks dot com. You do not have to agree with me to get published. I welcome any opinions on the topic.

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  • At 2012.10.01 18:21, Robert said:

    Overall I think more adults got their START reading Dr. Seuss than HP since by the time they read HP they already can read pretty well. So as far as overall impact Dr. Seuss is greater because those books formed the basis for reading HP. The first book I could actually read was “Go Dog Go” and I still remember when the light bulb went on!

    • At 2012.10.02 11:23, Book Review Blog said:

      Like you, I’d go for Dr Seuss, almost without thinking. But then - does Dr Seuss encourage a love of books, of reading or of being read to? One does hear of parents reading Harry Potter to children - presumably older and not very sleepy children. Those children must already have a love of books, to an extent. Are they being confirmed?

      No parent would want to read any Potter twice over - will the children take over reading for themselves? Are incipient book editors forced to develop early due to Rowlings’ frequent errors?

      And Dr Seuss has been around for so many years, compared with HP: It long ago passed the generations test.

      Yes, Dr Seuss it has to be: a warm and comfortable vehicle for a child’s early flights of fancy, giving love of and confidence in reading before the child takes the controls with Harry Potter, There is a PhD waiting though, for someone to start a study.

      • At 2012.10.02 14:33, Gina said:

        I have two three year olds and a seven month old. We have been reading to our children since they came home from the hospital. I think Dr Seuss books are amazing books for any age. Our children love the funny names and repeat them as week leaf through our very used version of There’s a Wocket in my Pocket. I don’t think Harry Potter books are appropriate for every child or every age. I personally would not read Harry Potter books to my children. I have read the books and seen the movies but my children will not until they are much older.

        • At 2012.10.03 08:32, Kylyssa Shay said:

          It’s truly a comparison of apples to oranges or perhaps apples to beans. Dr. Seuss is for toddlers and infants and Harry Potter is for kids eight and up in our current culture and probably five and up in reality.

          Dr Seuss books are great because they expose infants and toddlers to reading and help train their sense of rhythm. They also introduce the use of rhyme as a mnemonic to parents and children. I don’t know if it encourages parents to read with their children because some parents use easy books with pictures as an excuse to let children fend for themselves.

          Harry Potter is great because it has served as a catalyst for a reverse of the trend of dumbing down books for children that began in the late fifties. It used to be common for children to read novels but it stopped when parents became conditioned to believe children under eight to ten years of age are incapable of reading blocks of text and that even young teens are too young to read standard novels. If you don’t believe me, ask the old-timers you know. Most of them were reading chapter books before they hit school.

          My mom taught all of her children to read young adult novels before school age because that was how she was taught in the forties. I was reading Heinlein adult novels in kindergarten after reading through all of his juveniles I could get my hands on the summer before and I’m nothing special. It gave me and my siblings a huge love of reading and a huge love of language.

          Still don’t believe me? The Hobbit was a children’s book when it was written.

          During early childhood children are better at picking up languages than they are later in life and that includes their own language. I think kids are missing out because people have been conditioned to believe children are not able to think or comprehend much at all.

          No matter what the impact of the Harry Potter books themselves may be, their impact on how children’s books are being written has been huge. Since Harry Potter became popular, I’ve seen far more books with blocks of text written for children. I’ve also read and heard about parents totally shocked to see their children actually reading Harry Potter when they thought those children were not capable of reading blocks of text.

          • [...] Potter vs. Dr. Seuss - Part II October 4th, 2012 by Anne So I asked, in my last post Harry Potter books or Dr. Seuss books - which have had the most impact on kids’ reading? and [...]

            • [...] Sorry, I was away for a few days and therefore delayed posting the latest opinion on Harry Potter books or Dr. Seuss books - which have had the most impact on kids’ reading? [...]

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