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The Cat in the Hat



A kids' classic that put Dr. Seuss on the map.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The Cat trashes the kids' house and partakes in reckless behavior, but redeems himself in the end. Although not as clear-cut as Dr. Seuss' other stories, the overall message of this tale is about fun - very important to have but also necessary to set limits on when the time and situation calls for it. Readers may admire the two siblings' sense of responsibility as it encourages similar behavior that outshines the recklessness.

Positive role models

Well, it is the Cat in the Hat. Despite his bad behavior he is an enduring, and much loved, character. The true voice of reason in this story, however, is the family's pet fish who constantly opposes the Cat's exuberant, and oftentimes reckless, behavior. The two siblings also possess a strong sense of responsibility when it comes to setting limits on the fun that the Cat insists on having. Despite all the chaos he has caused, the Cat is able to clean up the mess he made moments before the mother returns as he disappears without a trace.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that young readers will likely side with the fun-crazed Cat and his sidekicks, not the guilt-tripping goldfish who serves as the voice of reason. The book's colorful illustrations capture the Cat's exuberant spirit and match the rapid-fire rhyming text, which will likely encourage multiple readings.

What's the story?

Two children are moping indoors on a rainy day when in strolls the Cat in the Hat. Making one of the most unforgettable entrances in the history of children's literature, the lanky feline, stylishly dressed in a candy-striped stovepipe hat and oversized bow tie, creates a whirlwind of misbehavior that the kids are at first powerless to halt.


Is it any good?


This is a must-read classic for every child.

In response to a pivotal Life magazine article titled "Why Johnny Can't Read," children's author Theodor S. Geisel -- aka Dr. Seuss -- spent over a year shuffling what must have seemed like a meager assortment of words, polishing and polishing, until he produced THE CAT IN THE HAT. And when the Cat strode into primary classrooms, boring old Puff and Spot slunk out forever.

The Cat is almost amoral: He traipses into the house, juggles possessions, and invites his odd pals to help him trash the place. (That's why the children's grumpy goldfish, a self-appointed baby-sitter/morality czar, is a perfect foil for the mischievous Cat.) That said, the Cat is hardly shameless. After the boy finally asserts himself and orders the fun-loving feline to "pack up those Things" and hit the road, the Cat is the picture of remorse -- even his whiskers and bow tie droop. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Dr. Seuss's unique use of language and can even use the book to introduce the concept of rhyming.

  • How many sets of rhyming words can you find in the text?

  • Do you notice any kind of pattern with rhyming pairs? Parents can also reinforce the real-life ramifications of the Cat's crazy behavior.

  • Do you think the children will be honest with their mother about what actually happened in the house that day?

Book details

Author:Dr. Seuss
Illustrator:Dr. Seuss
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:January 1, 1957
Number of pages:61
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7

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  • Delightful interplay between letters and drawings.
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  • Sends youngsters off to sleep with a chuckle.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byjillianlovescats October 22, 2010

Children 4 and older will love it!

The Cat in the Hat is very, very Educational!
Teen, 14 years old Written bytobe998 March 22, 2010
i think the book cat in the hat is a good book.for younger kids...
Parent Written bydct August 31, 2010

5 Hats out of 5 for the Cat

I love reading The Cat in the Hat to my 2 yr old. We have lots of fun reading through it. The first time through he thought it was too long, but now he asks for each each night before bed. I had previously thought he was zoning out during sections of the book, but a few days ago he was playing off by himself and talking to himself and I realized he was reciting part of the text from one of those sections! Others have expressed concern about the cat and the "things" as role models. You can't explain proper versus improper behavior without examples of the latter to counter with the former. The kids are mostly bystanders, who don't try to stop the cat or the things until pressed at the end. In the end, they take the right action. And, the cat himself, redeems himself to some degree by righting what he has done wrong. The story ends with a question -- that I believe -- is there for you to address when the story is presented and complete: When the mother comes home, should the kids tell her what happened while she was gone?
What other families should know
Great role models


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