History of the Cat in the Hat

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  • Topic: The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss, Children's literature
  • Pages : 2 (710 words )
  • Download(s) : 201
  • Published : May 23, 2013
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Theodore Geisel, writing as Dr. Seuss, created The Cat in the Hat 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: In the classroom boys and girls are confronted with books that have insipid illustrations depicting the slicked-up lives of other children. [Existing primers] feature abnormally courteous, unnaturally clean boys and girls. . . . In bookstores, anyone can buy brighter, livelier books featuring strange and wonderful animals and children who behave naturally, i.e., sometimes misbehave. Given incentive from school boards, publishers could do as well with primers. Hersey’s arguments were enumerated over ten pages of Life Magazine, which was the leading periodical during that time. After detailing many issues contributing to the dilemma connected with student reading levels, Hersey asked toward the end of the article:

Why should [school primers] not have pictures that widen rather than narrow the associative richness the children give to the words they illustrate — drawings like those of the wonderfully imaginative geniuses among children’s illustrators, Tenniel, Howard Pyle, "Dr. Seuss", Walt Disney? Dr. Seuss responded to this "challenge," and began work. His publisher supplied him with the sight vocabulary of 223 words, one that was in harmony with the words the child would be learning in school.

In an interview he gave in Arizona magazine in June 1981, Dr. Seuss claimed the book took nine months to complete due to the difficulty in writing a book from the 223 selected words. He added that the title for the book came from his desire to have the title rhyme and the first two suitable rhyming words that he could find from the list were "cat" and "hat". Dr. Seuss also regretted the association of his book and the "look say" reading method adopted during the Dewey revolt...
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