Sunday, March 9, 2008

Animals in Literature

We're going to end our celebration of Read Across America Week with another classic by Dr. Seuss.

The Cat in the Hat is perhaps the most read book Dr. Seuss ever created. The character of "The Cat" went on to appear in six other Seuss books and as a logo on many more. But it is the story behind the book that is even more interesting.

In 1954, a Life article discussed the problem of literacy in elementary schools. It seems 6 and 7 year olds found the Dick and Jane primer extremely boring. Dr. Seuss saw the need to entice children to read as a challenge. He managed to obtain an elementary school sight vocabulary list of 223 words (the words the children would be learning) and built his story around those words. Dr. Seuss planned for his book to be the nations new First Grade Primer. He wanted his book to rhyme; he felt the cadence would make the task of reading a little easier. The first two acceptable rhyming words he found were cat and hat. A masterpiece was born.

The Cat in the Hat uses 236 different words. 221 of them are monosyllabic. Only one word, "another," has three syllables. The most difficult word in the story is "playthings." The majority of words (54) appear only once. 33 words appear twice. The Cat in the Hat took Dr. Seuss 1 ½ years to write because of the careful restrictions he placed on himself for its creation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was amazed to read about Dr. Seuss's preparation in the writing of The Cat and the Hat. I look at Children's literature so differently now that I have taught Kindergarten.
How clever of Seuss to write stories that stimulate, encourage and interest children as they begin that journey of learning to read.
Mis Mil