Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Seuss’

The Early Importance of Vocabulary: Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat”

Tuesday, March 2, was the birthday of one of the country’s most beloved children’s authors—Theodor Seuss Geisel , better known to many by his pen name, Dr. Seuss.  Mr. Geisel is credited with publishing over sixty children’s books whose imaginative characters have helped to bring smiles to countless faces and to make reading an enjoyable experience for young readers.

Since vocabulary is what the Vocab Videos team knows best, we thought our Vocab Videos fans would be excited to learn the interesting history of one of Dr. Seuss’ most cherished works, The Cat in the Hat. Mr. Geisel wrote the story about the mischievous cat in response to a 1954 Life magazine article written by John Hersey which discussed a prominent national problem in education at the time—children’s struggle with reading.

Hersey criticized the reading materials commonly available to students in school with their “insipid illustrations depicting the slicked-up lives of other children.” Why, he asked, “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?” One of the talented illustrators Hersey pointed to after posing this question was Theodor Geisel.

Hersey spoke and Mr. Geisel listened. Geisel’s answer?  The Cat in the Hat. Mr. Geisel’s publisher supplied the author and cartoonist with a list of words that he believed young school children would be learning.  Within the The Cat in the Hat’s pages, Geisel included 223 vocabulary words that would serve to help improve the literacy young children who picked up his work.

So happy birthday, Dr. Seuss, and thank you for your lasting contribution to children’s literature and vocabulary!

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