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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Books used in classrooms at the time were so boring that they were undermining attempts to teach kids to read.


The Cat in the Hat
Inspiration: A magazine article, boring children’s books, a limited vocabulary
The late Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel was apparently inspired to write his all-time classic by a 1954 article in Life magazine that bemoaned the fact that the terminally dull Dick-and-Jane-style books used in classrooms at the time were so boring that they were undermining attempts to teach kids to read. Already a reasonably successful writer, Geisel echoed the article’s concerns to William Ellsworth Spaulding, the director of publisher Houghton Mifflin’s education division. Spaulding responded by providing Geisel with a list of simple words that such books were designed to teach children, and challenged him to “bring back a book that children can’t put down.” The result was The Cat in the Hat. (Incidentally, the title arose from the fact that “cat” and “hat” were the only two words on Spaulding’s list that rhymed.)

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