The Cat in the Hat books
by Leah Gray
The Cat in the Hat, art by Leah Gray
The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr Seuss:
Beguiling books for young readers!
Intriguing, beguiling, infuriating...these are the words that describe how I felt when I first enjoyed The Cat in The Hat books as a child.
I loved the illustrations and the poetry, but I just didn’t "get" the meaning! These books were presented unlike anything else I’d read at that time, and I recall trying to find something "sensible" I could use an anchor point from which to refer, but I was lost.
And yet despite my angst, I always reached first for Seuss's Cat in the Hat books when I went to the library with my year 1 class some 35 years ago!
The Cat in the Hat is a classic; it has stood the test in time. It delighted children when it was first published, and it continues to do so today.
I can still remember what it means to be a child, experiencing perpetual botheration at the rules and restrictions imposed on me.
The only difference I could see between adults and me was size, and yet they had all this power. How nice therefore to read a book where rules and botheration went out the window and mayhem reigned (or rather "rained," as is the case in this story).
A rainy day and a cat came to play, a cat in a hat no less...surround us in mess..no less. Or as the first line in the book says:
The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day.
I didn’t understand why all the rules of "writing" had been abandoned in this book when I read it aged 5 years old, but now I understand it was to allow us to share the dynamic rhythm of the poetry. I would have enjoyed these books far better at that time if I had shared them with an adult. The adult could have helped me to appreciate the way the words were laid out, the way I now encourage my own children to do when I read with them.
Children enjoy books much more if they experience as much sensory input as possible. You can guide their finger around the words as you sound them out together, thus utilising the senses of sound, vision and touch.
The Cat in the Hat - timeless, beautifully illustrated book for children aged 3-8yrs.
Leah Gray is one of our book reviewers.
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