Green Eggs and Ham

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Green Eggs and Ham
Author Dr. Seuss
Cover artist Dr. Seuss
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's literature
Publisher Random House
Publication date
August 12, 1960
ISBN 978-0-394-80016-5
OCLC 184476
Preceded by Happy Birthday to You!
Followed by The Sneetches and Other Stories

Green Eggs and Ham is a best-selling and critically acclaimed children's book by Dr. Seuss, first published on August 12, 1960. As of 2001, according to Publishers Weekly, it was the fourth best-selling English-language children's book of all time.[1] The story has appeared in several animated videos starting with 1973's Dr. Seuss on the Loose: The Sneetches, The Zax; Green Eggs and Ham starring Paul Winchell as the voice of both Sam-I-am and the first-person narrating man.[2]


A character known as "Sam-I-Am" pesters an unnamed character, who also serves as the story's narrator, to sample a dish of green eggs and ham. The unnamed character refuses, responding, "I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am." He continues to repeat this as Sam follows him, encouraging him to sample them in several locations (house, box, car, tree, train, dark, rain and boat), all to which the unnamed character refuses responding, "I would not like them here (Current location) or there (Previous location). I would not like them anywhere!" and with several animals (mouse, fox, goat). Finally, the unnamed character gives into Sam's pestering and samples the green eggs and ham, which he finds that he does like after all in the end and happily responds, "I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you. Thank you, Sam-I-Am."


Green Eggs and Ham is one of Seuss's "Beginner Books", written in a very simple vocabulary for beginning readers.

The vocabulary of the text consists of just fifty different words[3] and was the result of a bet between Seuss and Bennett Cerf (Dr. Seuss's publisher)[3][4][5] that Seuss (after completing The Cat in the Hat using 225 words) could not complete an entire book using so few words.

The fifty words are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.[3]


Green Eggs and Ham was first published on August 12, 1960,[6][7] and became the fourth-best selling English-language children's hardcover book of all time.[1][8] In 1999, the National Education Association (NEA) conducted an online survey of children and teachers, seeking the 100 most popular children's books. On the children's list, Green Eggs and Ham was ranked third, just above another Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat;[9] teachers ranked it fourth.[10] It ranked fourth again among teachers in a 2007 NEA poll.[11] It was one of the "Top 100 Picture Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal.[12] Scholastic Parent & Child magazine placed it #7 on its list of "100 Greatest Books for Kids" in 2012.[13]

Adaptations and tributes[edit]

  • Green Eggs and Ham is the third of the three Geisel stories that were adapted into the television special Dr. Seuss on the Loose, which featured a connecting narration by The Cat In The Hat, in 1973. (The Sneetches and The Zax were the other two.)
  • On September 29, 1991, after Dr. Seuss died at the age of 87 on the 24th, the Rev. Jesse Jackson read an excerpt of Green Eggs and Ham on Saturday Night Live during the Weekend Update section.[14]
  • The song "Green Eggs and Ham" was recorded by the band Moxy Früvous on their 1992 independent debut album Moxy Früvous and is a rap treatment of the famous story.
  • On September 21, 2007, U.S. District Court Judge James Muirhead referenced Green Eggs and Ham in his court ruling after receiving an egg in the mail from prisoner Charles Jay Wolff who was protesting against the prison diet. Muirhead ordered the egg destroyed as he stated in his judgment in the style of Seuss:[15][16]
I do not like eggs in the file.
I do not like them in any style.
I will not take them fried or boiled.
I will not take them poached or broiled.
I will not take them soft or scrambled,
Despite an argument well-rambled.
No fan I am of the egg at hand.
Destroy that egg! Today! Today!
Today I say!
Without delay!

Temporary ban[edit]

In 1965, the children's novel was banned in the People's Republic of China for its "portrayal of early Marxism".[how?] The ban was lifted in 1991, following Seuss' death.[17]

Selected translations[edit]


  1. ^ a b "All-Time Bestselling Children's Books". Publishers Weekly. 17 December 2001. Archived from the original on December 25, 2005. 
  2. ^ "Dr. Seuss on the Loose". IMDB. Retrieved December 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "10 stories behind Dr. Seuss stories". CNN. January 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  4. ^ "Green Eggs and Ham". 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012. 
  5. ^ "99 Interesting Facts about the world #18". All That is Interesting. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  6. ^ A 50 -year feast in 50 words, Marketplace. Accessed on 12 August 2010.
  7. ^ "Happy Birthday Sam-I-Am! 50 Years of Green Eggs and Ham". Gnews. 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012. 
  8. ^ Menand, Louis. "A Critic at Large: Cat People: What Dr. Seuss Really Taught Us." The New Yorker, 23 December 2002.
  9. ^ Kids' top 100 books NEA: National Education Association. Accessed on 26 November 2006.
  10. ^ Teachers' Top 100 Books NEA: National Education Association. Accessed on 26 November 2006.
  11. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  12. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (July 6, 2012). "Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results". School Library Journal "A Fuse #8 Production" blog. Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Parent & Child 100 Greatest Books for Kids". Scholastic Corporation. 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Transcript of SNL Weekend Update from September 29, 1991". 
  15. ^ "Judge makes 'Green Eggs and Ham' ruling". MSNBC. 
  16. ^ "ORDER the egg filed by the plaintiff is to be destroyed re: 55 Motion for Contempt,injunction", Wolff v. NH Department of Corrections et al (Case 1:2006cv00321), September 18, 2007, Filing 56 
  17. ^ "Banned Books Week: Green Eggs and Ham". New York Public Library. Retrieved December 2, 2013.