Sixty years ago, on March 1, 1957, Random House released The Cat in the Hat and reading primers changed forever. Just not right away. I was about to turn five and therefore the target demographic for the book, but, there being a serious absence of bookstores in West Cornfield, it took a while for the Cat to make his appearance in the Foster household. So I learned to read elsewhere, but Seussism arrived in time for my younger brothers, and I was envious of their good fortune. Who says it’s good to be the eldest?
The Cat in the Hat‘s contribution to literacy can’t be overstated. Because of that book, there are adults walking around who never met Ted and Sally or Dick and Jane, never had to see Spot run. Because of the book, other primers had to give young readers actual stories that at least tried to be interesting. The only other book in American history to shake up children’s publishing that much (also via the novelty of being entertaining) came out in 1900; it involved a young girl and her little dog and a yellow brick road.