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.
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!Read More
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.Read More
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).Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.)Read More
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.Read More
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.]Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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".Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More