Fifty years ago, on August 12, 1960, Green Eggs and Ham was published. The simple story of the annoyingly persistent Sam-I-am and his put-upon friend who finally caves in and tries green eggs and ham, it uses only 50 words. Nevertheless, it has become one of the most popular children’s books ever. It has sold more than 200 million copies.
Hearing about the 50th birthday of Green Eggs and Ham made me think of reading aloud to the boys when they were little — and how much I miss doing that. Green Eggs and Ham is a great book to read aloud. The reader can impersonate the voices of the two actors, the pictures are funny, and the text has a wonderful read-aloud rhythm that nevertheless allows you to add your own inflection and emphasis. (“That Sam-I-am! That Sam-I-am!!! I do not LIKE that Sam-I-Am!” is how I read it.) And, of course, the book teaches a good lesson: namely, you might as well try something, because you just might like it — and the unpleasant alternative is to be relentlessly browbeaten by the likes of Sam-I-am.
Any parent who doesn’t read books aloud to their kids is missing out on something that is wonderful and timeless. Those 200 million copies of Green Eggs and Ham made readers’ and listeners’ lives more fun and brought many parents and children a bit closer together. The 50th birthday of Green Eggs and Ham is one worth celebrating.