Dr. Seuss' 'Green Eggs and Ham' Turns 50

It's the 50th anniversary of the Dr. Seuss classic "Green Eggs and Ham."

August 12, 2010, 11:20 AM

Aug. 12, 2010 — -- It was 50 years ago today that one of the most beloved and well-read children's books first asked the enduring question: "Do you like green eggs and ham?"

You know the story. Sam-I-Am encouraging, cajoling, begging his unnamed, put-upon friend to try, just try green eggs and ham.

Watch "World News With Diane Sawyer" tonight for more on Dr. Seuss's famous book, "Green Eggs and Ham."

The Seuss classic, published in 1960, was a result of a wager between the author and his editor at Random House. Could Dr. Seuss, using 50 words, write an intelligent, entertaining children's book? In a word, yes (which is one of the 50 words). The U.S. writer and cartoonist, whose full name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, won the bet and $50, one dollar for each word.

Since then it has become one of the bestselling children's books of all time. About 200 million copies have been sold, besting "Harry Potter".

It has been read to children by U.S. presidents and Miss Americas; Heisman trophy winners and Hall of Fame baseball players, and by millions of moms and dads.

The book entered the zeitgeist in 1991 with the Rev. Jesse Jackson's famous recitation on "Saturday Night Live". It was an homage to Seuss. who had died that week.

Recipe for Education

The Food Network's website is littered with recipes for green eggs and ham. At this year's Iowa State Fair, Sam and his curmudgeonly friend sit centered stage ... carved out of butter. And there's even an app for that for the iPhone or iPad.

But Seuss wrote children's books to teach kids how to read. He considered the books available in the 1950s to be boring. So although the myriad of YouTube videos are amusing and the accolades and celebrity readers endearing, what is most important is that children still learn to read, reading his books.

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