Home > Books, Capitalism > Could Dr. Seuss be a Socialist?

Could Dr. Seuss be a Socialist?


Ok, so I say to my 2-year old daughter last night, “Let’s read a book or two before you go to bed,” like a good mamma is supposed to do, right?  Her face lights up and she shouts, “10 Apples!  10 Apples!”  She was referring to Dr. Seuss’s 10 Apples Up on Top.  Now, normally I like Dr. Seuss’s books.  In fact, his are among my favorite childrens’ books.  However, 10 Apples Up on Top is not his best work;  it’s a bit monotonous.  So, I’m less than thrilled when my daughter suggests this one.  But it teaches simple words and counting–it’s good for that–, so I cave and say, “Alright.”

So, here we are reading this book where 3 animals–a dog, a tiger, and a lion–compete by seeing how many apples they can stack on their heads.  “Look see, I can do three, I can put three on top, you see.”  Or something like that.  And then the next animal stacks four apples, then five and so on until they finally have ten apples on top.  All of this is fine.  We are counting and learning about competition.

Then a group of bears who pick up mops and start swatting at the apple stacks on the animals’ heads.  The book is not explicit about why, but one can assume from the pictures that perhaps the dog, tiger, and lion stole the apples from the bears’ refridgerator.   “Oh no, they have mops, they’ll knock our apples from the top, this all must stop…” I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have the book sitting next to me now.  But you get the picture.  So the bears (there are about 8 of them) chase the dog, tiger and lion around swatting at the apples barely balancing on their heads and chase them down a hill until at last, the whole pack runs into a huge cart of a million apples being pulled by an old guy and his mule.  Everything explodes, and then all of them put 10 apples on their heads – the bears, too!  And everyone celebrate.  “We all can have 10 apples on top,” is the gist.

My daughter is laughing, which makes me happy, but I’m sitting there perplexed.  I cannot help but wonder what the message is supposed to be here.  Compete to be the best at something, steal and destroy others’ livelihood to get it, then share your booty with everyone, so all have equal shares?

What about the old guy with the mule?  How long did it take for him to harvest all those apples?  Where was he going with them?  How will he feed his family and his mule now?  Dr. Seuss forgets to mention that, doesn’t he?  I don’t get it.  Is this some sort of subliminal message to my child that socialism is ok?   Is Dr. Seuss a pen name for Karl Marx?  

Well, that’s it.  I’m going to write my own version of this story….. Ok, so I probably won’t write my own version, but I will stuff this book to the back of my daughter’s book shelf and hope she forgets about it.  J

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Categories: Books, Capitalism
  1. November 6, 2006 at 5:11 pm

    Of course Dr Seuss books are full of his views on just about everything…before becoming an author of children’s books, he was a political cartoonist.

    Every book he wrote has some bigger message that pertains to the world we live in. Some are quite obvious, like The Lorax…others you would have to dig up copies of his old cartoons he drew for the symbolism to be understood.

    There are reoccuring characters in his books that are common with his cartoons. They represent things, places, people.

  2. Lisa
    February 9, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    I love Dr. Seuss so do my kids. Your point is interesting and I have to give it some thoughts.

  3. David Starr
    July 7, 2007 at 1:31 am

    I was reading this same story with my daughter. Ten apples up on top. At first I thought the bear was being quite nasty. Remember her face when the’re trapped and shout “Look Out, The Mop The Mop…”. I realise that the animals have broken into her house, and stole food from her fridge. She has a young baby bear. She’s protecting her child. I would do the same. The reference to socialism is interesting. Seuss always had a moral to his stories.

  4. October 5, 2009 at 8:12 am

    I find it ironic (slightly amusing, but then again not really) that over the weekend (3 years ago to the date I originally posted this blog post) that my daughter showed me an art project she did in school after her class read this Ten Apples Up On Top book.

    It was a picture of her with 7 of 10 apples stacked on her head.

    I just can’t get away from this book. Oh, no!!!!!!! 🙂

    So, we talked about the poor man at the end with his wagon of apples who was a victim of this “redistribution of apples.” And she understood immediately the injustice here. She said as she ate her breakfast, “It would be like someone taking my eggs.” LOL! I’m so proud.

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