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Hats and Children's Literature

There are dozens of children's books where a hat (or hats) plays a central role in the story. Here's a partial list [see below] -- all of which are in The Village Hat Shop's "books on hats" collection.

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.

That Hat's Fedorable

By Kirby Fopma & Holly Wojahn. Art Bookbindery, 2012.

That Hat’s Fedorable is a great children’s book. With colorful illustrations and rhyming words, kids are bound to stay interested. The illustrations somewhat resemble Matisse—the artist of the well known painting, “Woman in a Hat”—and go along great with the story. This story book is also great for learning about hats all around the world, from the American baseball cap to the French beret. If you’re not quite sure what the hat you’re reading about is, there’s a glossary at the end of the book that describes the unfamiliar hat or term. That Hat’s Fedorable comes complete with a seven track CD that contains songs about the hats featured in the book. Both catchy and upbeat, the songs by Rodger and Scott Wojahn are enjoyable and fun!

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Grinelda The Mad Hatter

Story by Mary Jo Reinhart

Artwork by Paula Nathan

It's true that people who wear hats have often been seen as eccentric, outside the fashion mainstream.  (Fortunately for Village Hat Shop, this is rapidly changing.)  As Grinelda appreciates, hat-making is an art form and staying true to your art will pay dividends in the long run.

Middle to upper elementary school-age children need to read books like this, as Grineldas - everywhere and in every generation - need the support that it offers. 

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What a Hat! by Holly Keller

Henry makes fun of his cousin Newton for always wearing his hat, but the hat comes in handy for Henry's sister Wizzie.

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A Hat for Minerva Loise

By Janet Morgan Stoeke

A hat is not a hat. But this "non-hat" is just the right hat. And, we need one when it's cold outside

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Aunt Lucy Went to Buy A Hat

By Alice Low. Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

I chuckled aloud on the first page. And it stays funny too - if you don't worry too much about what a nut-case Aunt Lucy is. I really appreciated the political incorrectness of this book, rather unusual and refreshing in today's children's literature (hooray).

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A Three Hat Day

By Laura Geringer

Pictures by Arnold Lobel

I remember when this book appeared (1985). I was new to the hat business amd this book spoke to me. From the first illustration where R.R. Pottle the Third is sitting in a big chair reading "Hats In History" to the scene in the hat store, and all the rest, this book is for those who love and understand the allure of hats.

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Do You Have A Hat?

By Eileen Spinelli

Illustrated by Geraldo Valerio

Certain individuals are so closely associated with their hats that it is hard to think of either the hat or the person without the other coming to mind - Abe Lincoln and his stove-pipe top hat, Carmen Miranda and her towering hat of fruit, Daniel Boone and his coonskin hat - to name a few. This book introduces youngsters to these folks as well as other historical figures the likes of Walt Whitman, Francisco de Goya, Amelia Earhart, and others. Any hat nut, myself for example, will love this book.

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Which Hat Is That?

By Anna Grossnickle Hines

Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Most of us wear many hats. This book takes it literally, showing young readers which hats are worn for which activities. Kids will like flipping the flaps that reveal the names of the hats.

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Hetty's 100 Hats

By Janet Slingsby

Illustrated by Emma Dodd

Hetty is an inveterate hat collector. She won't rest until she gets to one hundred hats. I found this to be a very fun read - in part, no doubt, because I am a hatter. Young children will learn counting as well as reading. (I won't be the only one who gets a kick out of seeing all these hats assembled at the end of the book. Am I? These must be others out there besides Hetty and me.)

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Red Hat Green Hat

By Louise Gikow. Illustrated by Joe Mathieu.

Reminiscent of Seuss' Butter Battle Book, this story is a metaphor of how the world sometimes gets out of whack. Most things in life are not simply black or white (or shall we say red or green). One's point of view can be a case of selective perception and be quite different from the truth of the matter (quantum mechanics). Both my sons loved The Butter Battle Book - I wish I had known this book when they were young as I am certain they would have appreciated it as well.

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Mrs Honey's Hat

Written and Illustrated by Pam Adams

A large aspect of the history of millinery (women's hats) includes the ever-changing and anything-goes area of hat trimmings. This book is about that. Mrs. Honey had quite an eventful week as her hat evolved day by day.

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Under My Hood I Have a Hat

By Karla Kuskin

Illustrated by Fumi Kosaka

Boy, this book brought back childhood memories in Michigan (I've been in San Diego for the past 26 years). In cold climates, you cannot just "go outside" in the winter. Rather, one must prepare for this action. [I remember teaching this to a friend I met in college who was from Miami, Florida - a smart guy but he just couldn't get used to bundling up before venturing out.]

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Bad Cat Puts on His Top Hat

By Tracy McGuinness

Bad Cat goes from a cad to being a feline Fred Astaire. Bad Cat is a little too self-absorbed and hip for my taste (that's the point of course, but still not my cup of tea). I may be too old for this book.

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Mr. George and the Red Hat

Written and Illustrated by Stephen Heigh

Mr. George and the Red Hat is a wonderful children's story featuring the stunning artwork of award-winning artist and author Stephen Heigh. The book is ideal for children 2-8 years old, teaching through a story of giving while also introducing the young reader to some of the finest artwork seen in a children's book.

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Aunt Flossie's Hats (and Crab Cakes Later)

By Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard

Paintings by James Ransome

Elizabeth and Sarah visit their grandmother every Sunday. They love going through her many boxes of hats, each with a story. The hats serve as important family heirlooms and as a means of connection to family history.

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Who's Under That Hat?

By David A. Carter

A pop-up book with various animals hiding under different kinds of hats -- with a surprise last animal. Little ones really like these pop-up books.

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Who Took the Farmer's Hat?

By Joan L. Nodset. Pictures by Fritz Siebel

Who Took the Farmer's Hat? is a great children's book. It's well written, well paced, and on top of that it has an engaging story. This book also has a great message:

The world we see depends on the world we know. Not everyone will see things the same way that you do.

With a great message and an easy read, this book is bound to become a favorite for your little one.

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Mr. Frumble's Biggest Hat Flap Book

By Richard Scarry

Mr. Frumble and his hat are friends. The hat is greeted in the morning when Mr. Frumble awakens. One day his hat flies out the window and is run over in the street by various vehicles. If you know Richard Scarry and his flap books, you know that little ones are very entertained by these interactive books.

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Bamboo Hats and a Rice Cake

By Ann Tompert

Illustrated by Demi

Not only is the story, adapted from Japanese folklore, unusual reading, but the addition of Japanese characters (used along with key nouns) together with Japanese style art and bookmaking make this book a great learning experience. I am reminded of a childhood favorite of mine, The Five Chinese Brothers. Thinking back, this book stands out because of the strange (from my childhood point of view) culture I was introduced to. Although I never made the connection before, I have become an avid Sinophile reading many books about China and traveling there in 1991 and 2004. Books like this one, Uncle Nacho's Hat, and others provide children great early insight into the world outside of their direct experience.

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The Mouse, the Cat, and Grandmother's Hat

A mouse hiding under Grandmother's hat causes quite a commotion at her surprise birthday party.

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Old Hat New Hat

By Stan & Jan Berenstain

This has become (in my humble estimation) a children's hat book classic. It's been in print a long time (1970) - I read it to my son, now 26, when he was a toddler. It's very simple (good for early readers) and silly. Kids like silly. As the book attests (and as a hat merchant, I will affirm), there are all kinds of hats in this world.

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Pajama Sam The Magic Hat Tree

Written by Gina Gold

Illustrated by Sue DiCicco

The transforming nature of hats, a recurring theme in writings about headgear, is again highlighted in this book. The primary appeal for kids will be all the pull-tabs and lift-the-flap type stuff going on, non-stop, during the reading.

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Kathy's Hats

By Trudy Krisher

Illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott

Kathy tells her childhood story and of her bout with cancer. The significance of hats in her life have twists and turns as the story moves from Kathy's life before cancer, to during chemotherapy, and finally to remission.

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Blue Hat, Green Hat

By Sandra Boynton

A book for very early readers (or for reading to 2-3 year olds). This book is one in a series "Serious silliness for all ages" -- slapstick for little ones, fun.

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The Christmas Hat

Written by A.J. Wood

Illustrated by Maggie Kneen

A keepsake quality book with embossed illustrations, high-quality binding, and dust jacket. A lovely story set in the North Woods -- nature enthusiasts will find this delightful.

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Madeline and the Bad Hat

By Ludwig Bemelmans

Pepito, the son of the next-door-neighbor Spanish ambassador is a "bad hat". His life changes as a result of a traumatic event where Miss Clavel and Madeline save the day.

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The Quangle Wangle's Hat

By Edward Lear

Illustrated by Louise Voce

Quangle Wangle Quee's hat becomes a suitable location as home for various animals. This is a narrative nonsense poem by Edward Lear. Lear (1812-1888) is well known for popularizing the humorous form of verse now known as the limerick.

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The Scarecrow's Hat

Written and illustrated by Ken Brown

Starting with the Scarecrow's hat, all the animals barter in an effort to get what they need.

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My Lucky Hat

When Frank wins two tickets to the Knights baseball game, he knows he has his lucky hat to thank. When Frank's favorite player begins to strike out, is his lucky hat powerful enough to help?

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The Magic Hat

By Mem Fox

Illustrated by Tricia Tusa

It would be fun to read this lyrical book aloud to children. Turning each page would be eagerly anticipated and fun.

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Jennie's Hat

By Ezra Jack Keats. Harper & Row, 1966.

A children's tale about Jennie and her obsession with hats (she even sneezes "HAT-CHOO!"). The book's theme revolves around hat trimmings, a vital element in the success of any finished hat. View our childrens hats

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The 500 Hats Of Bartholomew Cubbins

By Dr. Seuss. The Vanguard Press, 1938

Dr. Seuss's second book was a childhood staple of mine. If one believes in the destiny of early influences then this book might just be responsible for my entry into the hat business. This great, lesser known Seuss story addresses the fact that the hat has historically served to establish the individual's rank in society and that relationship to the origins of hat etiquette.

Bartholomew along with three of his hats can be seen at our Dr. Seuss Hats page. 

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By Gregory Williams and illustrated by Rosekrans Hoffman

Muppets Press/Random House, 1982.

Fozzie Bear cannot go on stage and perform without his missing hat. Distraught, he sniffs, "My hat and I-we were a team." Not so far fetched a premise; can you imagine Charlie Chaplin without his Bowler?

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The Cat in the Hat

By Dr. Seuss, Random House, 1957.

A children's book classic. Most likely you don't need me to give my two-cents worth regarding this best seller save for the fact that we sell the official, licensed hat worn by the main character.  In fact we sell many officially licensed Dr. Seuss Hats as well.

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The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

By Dr. Seuss. Random House, 1958.

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back is the sequel to The Cat in the Hat, a classic from Dr. Seuss.

The Cat in the Hat's hat is available at our Dr. Seuss Hats page. 

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The Hat by Tomi Ungerer

A magical black top hat floats onto the bald head of Benito Badoglio, a penniless veteran. Everyday that the hat accompanies Benito, it "performs" something heroic, like stopping a flowerpot from falling on a wealthy tourist's head, rescuing a rare bird, or extinguishing a fire inside a baby carriage. This magical, black hat makes Benito a wealthy man in his own right, thereby heaping riches and love upon him.

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When Everybody Wore a Hat

By William Steig, Joanna Cotler Books, 2003

This is a delightful children's book about the boyhood of its author, 95 year old William Steig. The book is both personal and historical as Steig recounts the time in America "when everybody wore a hat." Steig, an artist whose drawings have appeared regularly in "The New Yorker" magazine since 1930, is both the books's illustrator and writer. Grandparents looking for a book that they can read to their grandchildren that will inspire good additional conversation should buy this book.

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Uncle Nacho's Hat/El Sombrero Del Tio Nacho

Adapted by Harriet Rohmer

Illustrations by Mira Reisberg

Uncle Nacho's old hat is no longer serving him very well. His niece, Ambrosia, presents him with a new hat, but ridding himself of his old hat is not so easy.

Written in both English and Spanish (the story is adapted from a Nicaraguan folktale), the book is not only very enjoyable in its own right, but also a great way to learn a second language.

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Casey's New Hat

By Tricia Gardella

Illustrated by Margot Apple

Casey has outgrown her old hat and searches everywhere for the right replacement. Anyone who has gone hat shopping in an effort to replace and old "friend" knows her dilemma.

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The Hat by Jan Brett

A misbegotten woolen stocking becomes a "hat" when it gets stuck on the prickly head of a hedgehog. Hedgehog feels silly, is full of excuses with regard to what he is wearing, but just cannot free himself from this "hat". The ending is a surprise.

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Miss Fannie's Hat

Written by Jan Karon

Illustrated by Toni Goffe

The author's grandmother's hats serve as a point of departure for memories and stories -- sweet and sentimental.

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Zoe's Hats

By Sharon Lane Holm

An introductory reading book where hats are used as a vehicle to learn words, colors and patterns. Each page presents a front, full-face view of Zoe wearing different hats.

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Little Red Cowboy Hat

By Susan Lowell

Illustrated by Randy Cecil

An American Southwest setting for the classic "Little Red Riding Hood" tale. Red's cowboy hat replaces Red's hood and the rest is literary history. Great illustrations of the Southwest and a right-on grandma from American pioneer stock, "That yellow-bellied, snake-blooded, skunk-eyed, rancid son of a parallelogram! . . . This time he picked the wrong grandma".

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Miss Hunnicutt's Hat

By Jeff Brumbeau

Illustrated by Gail Marcken

Miss Hunnicutt insists on her right wear an eccentric (to say the least) hat even though the townspeople object. Ultimately, she gets the attention of one pretty important person.

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Milo's Hat Trick

By Jon Agee

Milo the Magician needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat (literally and figuratively) or he is going to be out of a job. A much bigger animal comes to his rescue.

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Twelve Hats for Lena

By Karen Katz

Lena Katz makes a hat that represents each month of the year. The book includes a hat-making tutorial "How To Make Lots of Hats From One Simple Pattern". Ages 3-8.

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Abe Lincoln's Hat

By Martha Brenner

Illustrated by Donald Cook

This is a "Step 3" reader in the "Step Into Reading" program. This is a good book that introduces young readers to American history, specifically to Abe Lincoln. We learn that Lincoln's iconic hat was more than simply an item of apparel -- it also served as a "file cabinet" for important papers and letters.

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Hats Off to John Stetson by Mary Blount Christian

This is a biography of the famous American hatter John B. Stetson, 1830-1906, written for young readers. As a former teacher and a father of two, I estimate the reading level as late elementary school. The book is very much in the style of biographies written for children of this age. It's the old work hard, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, American success story. I recommend the book for all aspiring hat entrepreneurs under 13 and over 10. Reading this book may give you a leg up when applying for a high school summer job at The Village Hat Shop. 

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Horace's Big Hat by Judy Palaferro

Ms. Palaferro's outstanding illustrations are chock full of detail.  The book is geared toward emerging readers, and each page allows for good, and ever changing, discussions beyond the written word.  The text respects the young reader's intelligence; there's much to learn in our big diverse world.

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A Frog Inside My Hat by Fay Robinson

The jaunty, green spotted frog on the cover of this inviting collection of simple poems is a cheerful indication of what readers will find inside. With few exceptions the poems are short (many of them three or four lines), uncomplicated and suitable for reading to preschoolers.

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