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The Cat in the Hat Is 50!



Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
Educational Technology
Social Studies
--Current Events


Grades 2-up

News Content

A special event honors the 50th birthday of The Cat in the Hat.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students to agree or disagree with each of the statements below. This will set a purpose for reading; as they read, they will confirm their assumptions or learn something new.

  • The Cat in the Hat is one of the most popular books of all time.
  • The Cat in the Hat was first published 25 years ago.
  • The Cat in the Hat is a short book -- fewer than 50 pages long.
  • About 2 million copies of The Cat in the Hat have been sold.

    News Words

    Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: aloud, allowed, celebrate, striped, popular, company, publish, project, and goal. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • The biggest _____ in our town employs more than 200 workers. (company)
  • Redoing the kitchen has turned out to be a bigger _____ than my father expected it to be. (project)
  • My uncles _____ shirt looked funny next to his plaid pants. (striped)
  • I am not _____ to stay up after 10 oclock on school nights. (allowed)
  • Our _____ is to collect 5,000 pennies to donate to our towns homeless shelter. (goal)
  • Will you do anything special to _____ Earth Day? (celebrate)
  • Sashas mother reads _____ to her every night before bed. (aloud)
  • Mrs. Green says we must edit our stories before we _____ them. (publish)
  • What is the most _____ song played on the radio this week? (popular)

    Read the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

  • Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

  • Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

  • Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

  • Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.
  • Click for a printable version of this weeks news story The Cat in the Hat Is 50!.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Dr. Seuss read a 1954 LIFE magazine article in which Pulitzer-Prize-winning author John Hersey said that U.S. kids had poor literacy skills because childrens books -- often called Dick-and-Jane books for the sterile main characters that appeared in them -- were boring. Seuss took up the challenge to write a story that ''first graders wouldnt be able to put down.'' Fifty years later, his book, The Cat in the Hat, has sold millions and millions of copies.
  • Dr. Seusss publisher provided him with a list of 223 easy-to-read words that all early readers should know. Seuss said he came up with the title by looking for the first two suitable rhyming words on the list. He used only 13 words that were not on the list. The Cat in the Hat ended up having a total of 1,626 words. Of the 236 different words used in the book, 54 of them occur only once and 33 occur twice. The most common words -- including the, and, I, and not -- appear in the story more than 40 times each. The two longest words are something and playthings.
  • The Cat in the Hat has been translated into many languages, including Latin and Yiddish.
  • A sequel to The Cat in the Hat, which was called The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, was published a year after the original -- in 1958.
  • Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. His mother, Henrietta, used to put her children to sleep by "chanting" rhymes she remembered from her childhood. Young Theodor inherited both his mothers maiden name, Seuss, and her love for rhyme.
  • Geisel attended Dartmouth College, where he was editor of the schools humor magazine. He used to sign his work "Seuss." Later, he would find work as a cartoonist. His work was published in popular magazines of the time, such as The Saturday Evening Post. He worked for Standard Oil for more than 15 years; there he created advertising for the company.
  • The Cat in the Hat was not Geisels first childrens book. The first was a book called And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, which was rejected by publishers 27 times before it was finally published. Altogether, Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated 44 children's books, including Green Eggs and Ham; Fox in Socks; and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His books have sold a total of more than 200 million copies.
  • To mark the birthday of The Cat in the Hat, Random House is honoring Dr. Seuss and his most popular book with Project 236. The project, named for those 236 words that "revolutionized the way children learn to read," offers children everywhere an opportunity to write a letter to the Cat in the Hat. For each letter received on the Project 236 Web site, a book will be donated to First Book, an organization that gives books to disadvantaged kids. In that way, the birthday of The Cat in the Hat is all about putting books into the hands of kids who need them most.
  • A recent study showed that, on average, children in middle-income neighborhoods have 13 books per child at home; but kids in low-income neighborhoods have one book for every 300 children.
  • Dr. Seuss died in 1991.
  • Comprehension Check

    Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to respond again to the statements in it.

  • The Cat in the Hat is one of the most popular books of all time. (true)
  • The Cat in the Hat was first published 25 years ago. (false, it was published 50 years ago)
  • The Cat in the Hat is a short book -- fewer than 50 pages long. (false, it is 72 pages long)
  • About 2 million copies of The Cat in the Hat have been sold. (false, more than 7 million copies have been sold)

    Recalling Detail
    You might follow-up that activity by asking some of these questions:

  • On what date was The Cat in the Hat first published? (March 1 in 1957)
  • What is the publisher doing to honor the books birthday? (They hope to get people all over the U.S. to read The Cat and the Hat at 2:36 p.m. on March 2.)
  • Why do kids like The Cat in the Hat so much? (Answers will vary. Students might say kids like the funny cat, the funny situations)
  • Why did Dr. Seuss write the book? (because some people were saying that kids books were too boring)
  • How long did it take Dr. Seuss to write The Cat in the Hat? (nine months)

    Think About the News
    Challenge students to respond to the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Language arts. Write a birthday message to send to The Cat in the Hat. You might write a "class message," or students might write their own messages. Messages can be sent online or mailed. Remember, each message that is sent results in a book being donated to kids who need books most. For more details on how to send your birthday message(s), click the Send a Birthday Message link.

    Graphing. On Read Across America Day, poll students to learn what their favorite book of all time is. You might present ten choices and have students choose one. Make a whole-school graph to illustrate students favorites. Which book won?

    Homonyms. If students know what homonyms are, ask them to identify the two words homonyms in this storys News Word Box. If students do not know what homonyms are, use the News Words aloud and allowed /I> to introduce the concept. Then ask students which of those two words completes each of these statements.

  • My father didnt even know that he was talking _____ in his sleep. (aloud)
  • Cars are not _____ to travel more than 25 miles per hour on Main Street. (allowed)
  • The sign at the zoo says we are not _____ to feed the animals. (allowed)
  • Our teacher _____ us an extra day to complete the homework. (allowed)
  • In the library, whispering is preferred to talking _____. (aloud)
    After introducing/reinforcing the concept of homonyms, use our Create Your Own Homophone Work Sheets resource to build a follow-up practice sheet for your students.

    Miscellaneous. Use some of the materials provided on the Project 236 Web site. Click the Teachers link to find a classroom activity guide and printable activity pages. For additional ways to celebrate Read Across America Day, be sure to see these activities from Education World.


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2007 Education World