The Cat in the Hat is a children's book by Dr. Seuss and perhaps the most famous, featuring a tall, anthropomorphic, mischievous cat, wearing a tall, red and white-striped hat and a red bow tie. He also carries a pale blue umbrella. With the series of Beginner Books that The Cat inaugurated, Seuss promoted both his name and the cause of elementary literacy in the United States of America. The eponymous cat appears in six of Seuss's rhymed children's books:
Theodor Geisel, writing as Dr. Seuss, created The Cat in the Hat in response to the May 25, 1954 Life magazine article by John Hersey, titled "Why Do Students Bog Down on First R? A Local Committee Sheds Light on a National Problem: Reading." In the article, Hersey was critical of school primers:
In the classroom boys and girls are confronted with six books that have insipid illustrations depicting the slicked-up lives of other children. [Existing primers] feature abnormally courteous, unnaturally clean boys and girls. . . . In bookstores, anyone can buy brighter, livelier books featuring strange and wonderful animals and children who behave naturally, i.e., sometimes misbehave. Given incentive from school boards, publishers...