There are dozens of children’s books where a hat (or hats) plays a central role in the story. Here’s a partial list — all of which are in The Village Hat Shop’s books on hats collection: [Note: For a short synopsis of each book below as well as the name of the equally important (at least) illustrator, click this article’s title above.]
JENNIE’S HAT by Ezra Jack Keats
WHEN EVERYBODY WORE A HAT by William Steig
THE HAT by Tomi Ungerer
THE CASE OF THE MISSING HAT Starring Jim Henson’s Muppets by Gregory Williams
BLUE HAT, GREEN HAT by Sandra Boynton
THE 500 HATS OF BARTHOLOMEW CUBBINS by Dr. Seuss
MADELINE AND THE BAD HAT by Ludwig Bemelmans
THE CHRISTMAS HAT by A.J. Wood
HATS OFF TO JOHN STETSON by Mary Blount Christian
ABE LINCOLN’S HAT by Martha Brenner
KATHY’S HATS by Trudy Krisher
TWELVE HATS FOR LENA by Karen Katz
THE QUANGLE WANGLE’S HAT by Edward Lear
LITTLE RED COWBOY HAT by Susan Lowell
THE SCARECROW’S HAT by Ken Brown
MILO’S HAT TRICK by Jon Agee
MISS HUNNICUTT’S HAT by Jeff Brumbeau
WHO WAS THE WOMAN WHO WORE THE HAT? by Nancy Patz
THE CAT IN THE HAT by Dr. Seuss
THE CAT IN THE HAT COMES BACK by Dr. Seuss
RICHARD SCARRY’S MR. FRUMBLE’S BIGGEST HAT FLAP BOOK EVER by Richard Scarry
ZOE’S HATS: A BOOK OF COLORS AND PATTERNS by Sharon Lane Holm
WHO TOOK THE FARMER’S HAT? By Joan L. Nodset
WHO’S UNDER THE HAT by Sarah Weeks
THE MAGIC HAT by Mem Fox
MISS FANNIE’S HAT by Jan Karon
CASEY’S NEW HAT by Tricia Gardella
EL SOMBRERO DEL TIO NACHO/UNCLE NACHO’S HAT by Harriet Rohmer
THE HAT by Jan Brett
MR GEORGE AND THE RED HAT by Stephen Heigh
MY LUCKY HAT by Kevin O’Malley
AUNT FLOSSIE’S HAT (AND CRAB CAKES LATER) by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard
Why are there so many children’s books about hats? Those of you who are regular readers of the HAT BLOG or the “Hat Information and Resources” section of VillageHatShop.com may have an inkling where I am about to go. Yes, this is in fact another example of a theme that runs throughout the blog and the site, i.e. hats matter. Hats are cultural icons. Hats sit prominently and significantly on the top of one’s head. Hats are a bridge to history. Hats transform the wearer. Hats, as a symbol, can be simple and complex at the same time. Hats are fun. As an object to revolve a story around, a hat is a perfect fit. Let’s take a smattering of examples:
Hats as a bridge to learning about history and as a file cabinet for important letters and papers: ABE LINCOLN’S HAT.
Hats as head covering for chemotherapy patients and as an object helping to sustain hope: KATHY’S HATS.
Hat (“Bad Hat” specifically) as metaphor for a person: MADELINE AND THE BAD HAT.
Hat as superhero: THE HAT (Ungerer).
Hat as a valuable item for barter: THE SCARECROWS HAT.
Hat as an eccentric and highly individual fashion statement: MISS HUNNICUTT’S HAT.
Hat as a good luck charm: MY LUCKY HAT.
Hat as an article spurring recall and story telling: MISS FANNIE’S HAT and AUNT FLOSSIE’S HATS (AND CRAB CAKES LATER).
Hat as an old friend and companion and as a metaphor for change: UNCLE NACHO’S HAT/EL SOMBRERO DEL TIO NACHO.
Granted, I am guilty of an a priori bias to infuse headwear with a high degree of symbolic significance, cache, cultural value, and the like (I’ve got to justify my existence somehow for god’s sake), and yet who can argue with its validity? Clearly, writers and artists from Seuss to Keats to Bemelmans to Scarry et al. who don’t share my self-interested prejudice, still find this relevance in hats.
But, I believe, the proliferation of the hat in children’s literature is more than all this. Parenting in modern America can feel like an out of control merry-go-round. The drumbeat of media messages to buy the right toys, infuse your home with the right music [Mozart] so as to promote brain development, commit to the right “play group”, enroll the child in the right pre-school (that promises to prepare your kid for the Ivy League), treading through the ubiquitous disingenuity (politicians and advertisers spinning, lying, and double-speaking) and deciding when and what to expose your innocent to the modern world, rampant commercialism (don’t buy anything except a hat), war – is it any wonder why a parent is attracted to a simple story that revolves around a simple honest object that connotes a simpler time. Hat as nostalgic icon – yes, that too. But alas, more than nostalgia – for crying out loud, the parent understandably wants to take her kid off that crazy modern merry-go-round. The parent has an epiphany — don’t heap all this adult nonsense and anxiety upon my kid — I’ll buy a little book and read about a hat. This is a good thing to do in our hyper-complex 21st Century — it’s in fact good for the soul.
1 thought on “Hats and Children’s Literature”
This is a very good and interesting article.