Green Eggs and Ham

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For the television series, see Green Eggs and Ham (TV series). For the video game, see Dr. Seuss: Green Eggs and Ham (video game).
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 One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
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 adaptations starting with 1973's Dr. Seuss on the Loose starring Paul Winchell as the voice of both Sam-I-Am and the first-person narrating man.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

A character known as "Sam-I-Am" pesters an unnamed character to eat 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 continuously follows him. Finally, the unnamed character gives in to Sam's pestering and samples the green eggs and ham, which he does like after all 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 50 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 236 words)[6] could not complete an entire book without exceeding that limit. The 50 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 published on August 12, 1960,[7][8] and became the fourth-best selling English-language children's hardcover book of all time.[1][9] In 1999 the National Education Association (NEA) conducted an online survey of children and teachers, seeking the 100 most popular children's books. The children ranked Green Eggs and Ham third, just above another Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat;[10] the teachers ranked it fourth.[11] Teachers ranked it fourth again in a 2007 NEA poll.[12] Scholastic Parent & Child magazine placed it #7 among the "100 Greatest Books for Kids" in 2012.[13] That year, too, it was ranked number 12 among the "Top 100 Picture Books" in a survey published by School Library Journal – the first of five Dr. Seuss books on the list.[14]

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.[15]
  • 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.
  • The book was also made into a Living Books adaptation for the PC. It was similar but unlike the book, Sam I-Am sings his opening lines and says "Sam I-Am" twice. Also unlike the book, when Sam asks the Grouchy Guy, "Do you like Green Eggs and Ham?", the eggs fly into his face, and there is an epilogue (not featured in the book) in which Sam and the Grouchy Guy say goodbye to the readers. Then the Grouchy Guy asks, "Say, why don't we go get something to eat?" and Sam replies, "I know just the place!". As the Living Books version ends, they walk into the sunset and the Grouchy Guy says, "You know, Sam... This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.".
  • 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:[16][17]
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".[21] The ban was lifted in 1991, following Seuss' death.[22]

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. ^ [1]
  7. ^ A 50 -year feast in 50 words, Marketplace. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
  8. ^ "Happy Birthday Sam-I-Am! 50 Years of Green Eggs and Ham". Gnews. 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012. 
  9. ^ Menand, Louis. "A Critic at Large: Cat People: What Dr. Seuss Really Taught Us". The New Yorker. 23 December 2002.
  10. ^ Kids' top 100 books NEA: National Education Association. Retrieved 26 November 2006.
  11. ^ "Teachers' Top 100 Books". NEA: National Education Association. Retrieved 26 November 2006.
  12. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Parent & Child 100 Greatest Books for Kids" (PDF). Scholastic Corporation. 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  14. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (July 6, 2012). "Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal ( Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Transcript of SNL Weekend Update from September 29, 1991". 
  16. ^ "Judge makes 'Green Eggs and Ham' ruling". MSNBC. 
  17. ^ "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 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 29, 2015). "Netflix Picks Up 'Green Eggs and Ham' Animated Series From Ellen DeGeneres". Deadline. Retrieved April 30, 2015. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Banned Books Week: Green Eggs and Ham". New York Public Library. Retrieved December 2, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Claasen, Lynda (16 January 2015). How Dr. Seuss Created Green Eggs and Ham (Video).