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In my picture book, Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss wrote 'The Cat in the Hat', I include five writing tips that I distilled from Dr. Seuss’s interviews and from the recollections of his friends and family. Here’s a little more about the first tip:
Tip #1: Set yourself a challenging goal
“All I needed, I figured, was to find a whale of an exciting subject which would make the average six-year-old want to read like crazy.” That’s what Dr. Seuss told an interviewer from The Saturday Evening Post in 1957, soon after The Cat in the Hat was published.
To accomplish this goal—a goal that seemed so simple but turned out to be so difficult—took him about twice as long as creating what he called a "big book" (like Horton Hears a Who, or How the Grinch Stole Christmas).
Dr. Seuss knew, of course, that he needed more than just an exciting subject. He needed an exciting subject that he could write about using only simple words from a very short list. He wasn't able to use the names of faraway places, or even the names of wild animals, so he settled upon a fantasy adventure that took place inside an ordinary 1950’s suburban house.
To make six-year-olds want to “read like crazy,” (and also be able to read like crazy) he added Seussian touches, for example,
I am an author and folklorist based in Portland, Oregon.
Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote 'The Cat in the Hat"
(Random House, 2017). Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.
*Starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Kirkus.
The Great Dictionary Caper, illustrated by Eric Comstock (Paula Wiseman Books, Simon & Schuster, 2018)
**Starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist.
Wild About Books, illustrated by Marc Brown. (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2004). New York Times Bestseller, ALA Notable Book, and winner of the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award.