In 1957, Dr. Seuss published his first book, The Cat in the Hat. His aim was to offer early readers stories that really interested them, with which they could learn and enjoy themselves. Over fifty years have passed, Dr. Seuss’s books have been translated to more than ten languages and they have been, and remain, part of the collective memory of several generations of readers.
In 1954, an article appeared in Life magazine talking about problems with learning during the early years of a child’s education and their difficulties with reading. The author of the article stated that the source of the problem was the books that, until then, had been available for early readers: boring and indoctrinating stories with bland drawings which didn’t stand out at all. Following this publication, the publicist and cartoonist Theodor Seuss Geisel was set a big challenge: of the more than 300 words that children should master by the age of six, he had to construct a story with only 225. And he not only managed to overcome this difficult task, he also truly managed to captivate young readers and set a new trend in children’s publications of the time. The Cat in the Hat was the result of this challenge and, after it was first published in 1957, over one million copies were sold in just three years. Dr. Seuss (the pseudonym used by Theodor Seuss Geisel to sign his books) became a leading author and published dozens of titles which have crossed frontiers and are part of the collective memory of several generations of readers across the world.
Dr. Seuss brought such mythical creatures to life as the Cat in the Hat (a crazy cat that always wears a top hat and a tie with a large blue bow), the Lorax (a curious, short brown creature that speaks for the trees, protecting the environment) or the Grinch (a strange and grumpy solitary figure who, feeling annoyed with the festive Christmas atmosphere, decides to spoil this celebration). The books featuring these characters have been translated to more than ten languages across the world. Additionally, in recent years, film and stage adaptations have been made of some of these adventures.
The Cat in the Hat was the first book by Dr. Seuss, from a series featuring this strange and crazy character who breaks into houses when the children are bored and alone, to pull everything apart and wreak havoc and mayhem. It all starts when a brother and sister are staring out of the window in their house, bored, waiting for the afternoon to pass: their mother isn’t home and they can’t go out because the rain is pouring down. All of a sudden, they hear a loud bump, which announces the arrival of the Cat in the Hat. The children are scared and try to stop him because he and his two companions (Thing One and Thing Two) are making a mess of everything. Fortunately, the children, with the help of a talking fish, manage to throw these crazy characters out of the house before their mother returns home.
In 1960, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish was published for the first time. With chain rhymes and an unrelenting pace, Dr. Seuss lists colors, numbers and opposites and establishes strange and absurd links between them, which will appeal to young readers who won’t be able to put this book down.
These two titles fulfilled the objective of Dr. Seuss, which arose after the publication of that article in Life magazine, which blamed children's lack of interest in reading on the books that had been published until then. It was necessary to change the approach, evaluate the interests and capabilities of early readers and offer them interesting books suited to their abilities. These reflections led to the Cat in the Hat and other such characters: thrilling and absurd stories that play with language, that have become a source for learning vocabulary and basic language structures. Every single word, syllable, sentence, repetition and picture is designed for and tailored to the needs of young readers. That’s why, although more than fifty years have passed since these books were first published, some of them are still among the best children’s books of all time.