Life Lessons from Dr. Seuss and Cat in the Hat Poems

Who says Dr. Seuss (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) poems and stories are for children? Of course we all have our favorite childhood stories about green eggs, little fish, all kinds of bad tricks, and lots of good fun. But Theodor Seuss Geisel also offers great words of wisdom about life for people of all ages with his Cat in the Hat poems and other written works.

Let’s learn a bit about Dr. Seuss before we enjoy some favorite Cat in the Hat poems and life according to Dr. Seuss.

a red and white graphic with 6 life lessons from cat in the hat poems and a red and white striped hat in the top right corner
Life Lessons from Dr. Seuss and Cat in the Hat Poems

What are the Main Messages of Cat in the Hat Poems?

Dr. Seuss wrote stories that were entertaining, educational, whimsical, and fun for all. But his works also addressed relevant moral and social topics as well as valuable character traits. Later in his career, he branched out into political cartoons, animations, and film making.

In “The Cat in the Hat” story, two children (Sam and Sally) are home alone on a rainy day when the Cat in the Hat shows up.

Dr. Seuss tells a humorous story of the two visitors (Thing 1 and Thing 2) wreaking havoc in the home while Sam, Sally, and their fish stand by in astonishment debating what to do. This funny story causes the reader to reflect on topics such as trust, responsibility, social expectations, and honesty.

Isn’t there a little mayhem inside all of us that can related to the antics of Thing 1 and Thing 2? Maybe that’s another reason why Dr. Seuss and his characters are beloved by all.

Some other important life lessons from Cat in the Hat poems and other Dr. Seuss books include:

  • “The Lorax” — Be an advocate for those who can’t defend themselves and take care of the environment.
  • “The Sneetches” Always accept others even if they’re different than you.
  • “Happy Birthday to You!” — Be sure to celebrate our own individuality and uniqueness.
  • “Green Eggs and Ham” — When you step outside your comfort zone and you may be pleasantly surprised.
  • “Horton Hatches the Egg” — Always stay true to your word and believe in the power of love and loyalty.
  • “Horton Hears a Who!” — Believe in equality for all and stand up for what you believe in even if it’s difficult.
  • “Yertle the Turtle” — The character traits of greed and vanity are less than admirable.

Dr. Seuss originally wrote the story to help children learn how to read and motivate them to want to read. With its immense popularity, Dr. Seuss became a household name.

a white, black, red, and blue graphic with an image of the cat in the hat and two quotes from cat in the hat poems

Facts About Dr. Seuss and his Writing

1. Dr. Seuss wrote most of his books in anapestic tetrameter, a poetic meter employed by many poets of the English literary canon. This is often suggested as one of the reasons that his writing was so well received. It was fairly simple and entertaining to read.

2. He also wrote verse in trochaic tetrameter, an arrangement of a strong syllable followed by a weak syllable, with four units per line (for example, the title of “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish”). Again, this writing style is easy and fun to read.

3. Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated over 60 children’s books in his long career. They were translated into more than 20 languages and sold over 600 million copies.

4. Dr. Seuss’ writing was so popular that his birthday, March 2, as been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day. This is an initiative to encourage people to read, created by the National Education Association.  

5. Dr. Seuss’ top-selling books and best-known titles include “Green Eggs and Ham,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,” and “Dr. Seuss’s ABC.”

7. Dr. Seuss is considered one of the most important writers of children’s literature of all time. His poems and stories are outrageously funny, surprising, and colorful.

9. Adaptations of his books have been made into 11 television specials, five feature films, a Broadway musical, and four television series. He has received many awards for his work both during his life and after he died.

the cat in the hat appears in a white frame against a yellow background in a promotional image for read across america on march 2 and happy birthday wishes to dr seuss

The Cat in the Hat Poems

“The Cat in the Hat” story is among the best known Dr. Seuss books and is read by people around the world. It was published in 1957.

The story was written after a discussion in which Dr. Seuss learned that people felt children’s books were boring. He wanted to write stories that young readers wanted to read and enjoy.

This story and the unique characters spawned many other books, poems, and quotes.

Now let’s take a look at the words of the original Cat in the Hat poem (copyrighted in 1957):

The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house All that cold, cold, wet day. I sat there with Sally, we sat there we two. And I said, “How I wish we had something to do!”

Too wet to go out and too cold to play ball. So we sat in the house. We did nothing at all. So all we could do was to Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit! And we did not like it. Not one little bit. And then something went BUMP! How that bump made us jump! We looked! Then we saw him step in on the mat! We looked! And we saw him! The Cat in the Hat!

And he said to us, “Why do you sit there like that?” “I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny. But we can have lots of good fun that is funny!” “I know some good games we could play,” said the cat. “I know some new tricks,” said the Cat in the Hat.

“A lot of good tricks. I will show them to you. Your mother will not mind at all if I do.” Then Sally and I did not know what to say. Our mother was out of the house for the day. But the fish said, “No! No! Make that cat go away! Tell that Cat in the Hat you do NOT want to play. He should not be here. He should not be about. He should not be here when your mother is out!”

“Now! Now! Have no fear. Have no fear!” said the cat. “My tricks are not bad,” said the Cat in the Hat. “Why, we can have lots of good fun, if you wish, with a game that I call UP UP UP with a fish!”

“Put me down!” said the fish. “This is no fun at all! Put me down!” said the fish. “I do NOT wish to fall!”

“Have no fear!” said the cat. “I will not let you fall. I will hold you up high as I stand on a ball. With a book on one hand! And a cup on my hat! But that is not ALL I can do!” said the cat… “Look at me! Look at me now!” said the cat. “With a cup and a cake on the top of my hat! I can hold up TWO books! I can hold up the fish! And a little toy ship! And some milk on a dish! And look! I can hop up and down on the ball! But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all… “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me NOW! It is fun to have fun but you have to know how. I can hold up the cup and the milk and the cake! I can hold up these books! And the fish on a rake! I can hold the toy ship and a little toy man! And look! With my tail I can hold a red fan! I can fan with the fan as I hop on the ball! But that is not all. Oh, no. That is not all…”

That is what the cat said… then he fell on his head! He came down with a bump from up there on the ball. And Sally and I, we saw ALL the things fall! And our fish came down, too. He fell into a pot! He said, “Do I like this? Oh, no! I do not. This is not a good game,” said our fish as he lit. “No, I do not like it, not one little bit!”

“Now look what you did!” said the fish to the cat. “Now look at this house! Look at this! Look at that! You sank our toy ship, sank it deep in the cake. You shook up our house And you bent our new rake. You SHOULD NOT be here when our mother is not. You get out of this house!” said the fish in the pot.

“But I like it here. Oh, I like it a lot!” said the Cat in the Hat to the fish in the pot. “I will NOT go away. I do NOT wish to go! And so,” said the Cat in the Hat, “So so so… I will show you another good game that I know!”

And then he ran out. And then, fast as a fox, The Cat in the Hat came back in with a box. A big red wood box. It was shut with a hook. “Now look at this trick,” said the cat. “Take a look!” Then he got up on top with a tip of his hat. “I call this game FUN IN A BOX,” said the cat. “In this box are two things I will show to you now. You will like these two things,” said the cat with a bow. “I will pick up the hook. You will see something new. Two things. And I call them Thing One and Thing Two. These things will not bite you. They want to have fun.”

Then, out of the box came Thing Two and Thing One! And they ran to us fast. They said, “How do you do? Would you like to shake hands with Thing One and Thing Two?” And Sally and I did not know what to do. So we had to shake hands with Thing One and Thing Two. We shook their two hands. But our fish said, “No! No! Those Things should not be In this house! Make them go! They should not be here when your mother is not! Put them out! Put them out!” said the fish in the pot.

“Have no fear, little fish,” said the Cat in the Hat. “These things are good Things.” And he gave them a pat. “They are tame. Oh, so tame! They have come here to play. They will give you some fun on this wet, wet day.”

“Now, here is a game that they like,” said the cat. “They like to fly kites,” said the Cat in the Hat. “No! Not in the house!” said the fish in the pot. “They should not fly kites in a house! They should not. Oh, the things they will bump! Oh, the things they will hit! Oh, I do not like it! Not one little bit!”

Then Sally and I saw them run down the hall. We saw those two Things bump their kites on the wall! Bump! Thump! Thump! Bump! Down the wall in the hall. Thing Two and Thing One! They ran up! They ran down! On the string of one kit we saw Mother’s new gown! Her gown with the dots that are pink, white and red. Then we saw one kite bump on the head of her bed! Then those Things ran about with big bumps, jumps and kicks snd with hops and big thumps snd all kinds of bad tricks.

And I said, “I do NOT like the way that they play! If Mother could see this, Oh, what would she say!”

Then our fish said, “Look! Look!” And our fish shook with fear. “Your mother is on her way home! Do you hear? Oh, what will she do to us? What will she say? Oh, she will not like it to find us this way!” “So, DO something! Fast!” said the fish. “Do you hear! I saw her. Your mother! Your mother is near! So, as fast as you can, think of something to do! You will have to get rid of Thing One and Thing Two!”

So, as fast as I could, I went after my net. And I said, “With my net I can get them I bet. I bet, with my net, I can get those Things yet!” Then I let down my net. It came down with a PLOP! And I had them! At last! Those two Things had to stop.

Then I said to the cat, “Now, you do as I say. You pack up those Things and you take them away!”

“Oh dear!” said the cat. “You did not like our game… Oh dear. What shame! What a shame! What a shame!” Then he shut up the Things in the box with the hook. And the cat went away with a sad kind of look.

“That is good,” said the fish. ”He has gone away. Yes. But your mother will come. She will find this big mess! And this mess is so big and so deep and so tall, we can not pick it up. There is no way at all!”

And THEN! Who was back in the house? Why, the cat!

“Have no fear of this mess,” said the Cat in the Hat. “I always pick up all my playthings and so… I will show you another good trick that I know!”

Then we saw him pick up all the things that were down. He picked up the cake, and the rake, and the gown, and the milk, and the strings, and the books, and the dish, and the fan, and the cup, and the ship, and the fish.

And he put them away. Then he said, “That is that.” And then he was gone, with the tip of his hat. Then our mother came in and said to us two, “Did you have any fun? Tell me. What did you do?”

And Sally and I did not know what to say. Should we tell her the things that went on there that day? Should we tell her about it? Now, what SHOULD we do? Well… what would YOU do if your mother asked YOU?


a quote from Dr Seuss' oh the places you'll go book and the cat in the hat on the left side of the quote
A quote from “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” that light-heartedly expresses the truth about life’s great balancing act.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Published in 1990, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” is a well-loved book that explores themes of self-confidence, motivation, personal development, and identity. It’s an entertaining book about the journey of life, and its challenges and joys.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” acknowledges future failures and inspires the reader to keep working hard. It encourages readers to follow their dreams and keep going — regardless of obstacles along the way. .

This poem creates an inspiring and uplifting mood that by the end of the poem should have any reader convinced that they can do anything they want to do and eventually succeed.

Now let’s read one more of Dr. Seuss’ most popular Cat in the Hat poems (copyrighted 1990 by Dr. Seuss):

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way.


i love my job by seuss cat in the hat poem on a black background in white text and the cat in the hat on the left side of the poem
For anyone who has a love-hate relationship with their job, this is one of Dr. Seuss’ best Cat in the Hat poems. It makes light of the work responsibilities that drive us crazy, while helping us remember to appreciate the fact that we have a job!

Final Thoughts about Cat in the Hat Poems

Hopefully this has been a fun way to revisit some of your favorite childhood Cat in the Hat poems and Dr. Seuss stories, and give you a new, fresh perspective on them. Dr. Seuss was a prolific writer and talented illustrator who had much wisdom to offer the world.

Many of his books offer lessons about LIFE that children can grow up with — and adults can learn from today. After reading his books with children, parents and teachers should have discussions with the children about the morals or themes.

Now before we close, let me share one more of my favorite Cat in the Hat poems — excuse the bad language:)

the cat in the hat on aging poem on a white background with the cat standing on the left side of the iamge
Written with humor and rhythm, this poem touches upon topics that are highly relatable for anyone who is dealing with the aging process.

There are many valuable lessons we can learn about life from Cat in the Hat poems and other Dr. Seuss stories. I hope you enjoy his work as much as I do!

Love to ALL! ~ Susan

Which are your Favorite Cat in the Hat poems and Dr. Seuss stories?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below:)

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