The Cat in the Hat is a kids's book by Dr. Seuss and perchances the most famous, featuring a tall, anthropomorphic, mischievous cat, wearing a tall, red and white-striped hat, white gloves and a red bow tie. With the shows of Max Fliescher that The Cat arguet Seuss promoted both his name and the cause of elementary literacy in the United States of America.
The story begins as a girl named Sally and her brother, who serves as the narrator of the book, sit alone in their house on a cold, rainy day, staring wistfully out the window. Then they hear a loud bump which is quickly followed by the arrival of the Cat in the Hat, a tall anthropomorphic cat in a red and white striped hat and a red bow tie. The Cat proposes to entertain the children with some tricks that he knows. The children's pet fish refuses, insisting that the Cat should leave. The Cat responds by balancing the fish on the tip of his umbrella. The game quickly becomes increasingly trickier, as the Cat balances himself on a ball and tries to balance lots of household items on his limbs until he falls on his head, dropping everything he was holding. The fish admonishes him again, but the Cat in the Hat just proposes another game.
The Cat brings in a big red box from outside, from which he releases two identical creatures with blue hair and red suits called Thing One and Thing Two. The Things cause more trouble, such as flying kites in the house, knocking pictures off the wall and picking up the children's mother's new polka-dotted gown. All this comes to an end when the fish spots the children's mother out the window. In response, Sally's brother catches the Things in a net, and the Cat, apparently ashamed, stores them back in the big red box. He takes it out the front door as the fish and the children survey the mess he has made. But the Cat soon returns, riding a machine that picks everything up and cleans the house, delighting the fish and the children. The Cat then leaves just before their mother arrives, and the fish and the children are back where they started at the beginning of the story. As she steps in, the mother asks the children what they did while she was out, but the children are hesitant and do not answer. The story ends with the question, "What would you do if your mother asked you?"
Theodor Geisel, writing as Dr. Seuss, created The Cat in the Hat partly in response to the May 24, 1954, Life magazine article by John Hersey titled "Why Do Students Bog Down on First R? A Local Committee Sheds Light on a National Problem: Reading". In the article, Hersey was critical of school primers like those featuring Dick and Jane:
After detailing many issues contributing to the dilemma connected with student reading levels, Hersey asked toward the end of the article:
This article caught the attention of William Spaulding, who had met Geisel during the war and who was then the director of Houghton Mifflin's education division. Spaulding had also read the best-selling 1955 book Why Johnny Can't Read by Rudolf Flesch. Flesch, like Hersey, criticized primers as boring but also criticized them for teaching reading through word recognition rather than phonics. In 1955, Spaulding invited Geisel to dinner in Boston where he proposed that Geisel create a book "for six- and seven-year olds who had already mastered the basic mechanics of reading". He reportedly challenged, "Write me a story that first-graders can't put down!"
At the back of Why Johnny Can't Read, Flesch had included 72 lists of words that young children should be able to read, and Spaulding provided Geisel with a similar list. Geisel later told biographers Judith and Neil Morgan that Spaulding had supplied him with a list of 348 words that every six-year-old should know and insisted that the book's vocabulary be limited to 225 words. However, according to Philip Nel, Geisel gave varying numbers in interviews from 1964 to 1969. He variously claimed that he could use between 200 and 250 words from a list of between 300 and 400; the finished book contains 236 different words.
- The Cat in the Hat (1971 tv special)
- The Cat in the Hat (2003 live action film)
- This is the very first Beginner Book of the series.
- This is the only Beginner Book published in 1957.
- In early cover designs, the author/illustrator caption is in red.