March 2 marked the 110th anniversary of Theodor Geisel’s birth, and Random House Children’s Books, in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, is commemorating this milestone and the enduring legacy of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author with the debut of Dr. Seuss’s Birthday Club. The online venture offers a platform for families to become better acquainted with the colorful characters that populate Dr. Seuss’s books (worldwide sales of which total 600 million copies), and provides members with tools and ideas for hosting a “Seuss-ational” birthday fete.
After joining online, club members will automatically receive an email with downloadable Seussian activities and crafts. They can also download additional games and crafts, and can access Dr. Seuss-themed e-cards to send.
On their own birthdays, club members will receive a personalized birthday e-card with a greeting from the Birthday Bird of Katroo, the star of Dr. Seuss’s Happy Birthday to You!, as well as downloadable birthday activities based on the Dr. Seuss Birthday Book of the Month. The kick-off titles are The Cat in the Hat in March, The Lorax in April, and Oh, the Places You’ll Go! in May. Members will also be automatically entered in a monthly contest to win a birthday party prize pack with supplies for throwing a Dr. Seuss-themed event, a plush Dr. Seuss toy, and a The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That DVD.
Kerri Benvenuto, RHCB’s executive director of brand marketing, noted that the Dr. Seuss Birthday Club launch was timed to coincide with the NEA’s annual Read Across America, a nationwide initiative to celebrate Geisel’s birthday – and the joy of reading – with group readings of Dr. Seuss books. “We’d been talking about launching a Dr. Seuss Birthday Club as a fun family event, to introduce children and parents to the depth of the Seuss backlist and to less well-known characters from his books,” she said. “This seemed like the perfect moment to do it.”
Benvenuto explained that the Birthday Bird of Katroo, one of the Seussian characters who get less face time than the Cat in the Hat or the Grinch, serves as “the character ambassador” for the Dr. Seuss Birthday Club and is featured in the program’s logo. Fittingly, Happy Birthday to You!, which has sold 2.25 million copies since its 1959 release, is “the anchor book” for the club. In commemoration of the Geisel birthday celebration, RHCB recently released that title in e-book format for the first time.
It appears that the Birthday Bird is doing a ducky job as ambassador: Benvenuto reported that, since early signups for the Dr. Seuss Birthday Club site began on February 14, 30,000 members have enrolled.