The Cat in the Hat is America’s Favorite Book from Childhood

New York, N.Y. —  It’s been fifty-nine years, but it feels like a day, since The Cat in the Hat came to our house to play. Clearly the book has stood the test of time, as our feline friend and his “Things” are U.S. adults’ top unprompted choice when asked to name their favorite book from childhood. Runner up for the win is another beloved Dr. Seuss classic, good old Green Eggs and Ham. Further solidifying the good Dr.’s impact on American childhoods, unspecific mentions of Dr. Seuss outpaced mentions of any single work he published.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,193 U.S. adults surveyed online between January 13 and 18, 2016.

Oh the places you’ll go…

Coming in third is a somewhat scary story, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

So what’s number four? Well, we’ll give you a clue – the mysteries solved by sleuth Nancy Drew (created by Edward Stratemeyer). Next up is the Good Book itself, as The Bible/“Bible stories” rounds out the top five.

Sixth place goes to the story of a spider who saves a swine, E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. Meanwhile, Goodnight Moon (by Margaret Wise Brown, with illustrations by Clement Hurd) and Curious George (from the husband and wife team of Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey) tie for seventh.

Closing out the top ten, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women ties Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree for ninth place.  


I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere.

While Americans as a whole may have one favorite, not everyone agrees.

Take the generations, for example:

  • The Cat in the Hat won over Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers, but Matures are more likely to look back on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as their favorite book from childhood.
  • Even when it comes to second place, Millennials and Gen Xers agree on Green Eggs and Ham, but Baby Boomers prefer Nancy Drew and Matures reach for The Bobbsey Twins (published under the pseudonym Laura Lee Hope).

But generations aren’t the only demographic with differences:

  • Region also plays a role in preferences. Adults from the East and Midwest agree that Green Eggs and Ham is number one, but disagree on what comes in second (with Easterners voting for Goodnight Moon while Midwesterners put their weight behind The Cat in the Hat).  
  • Southerners put The Cat in the Hat in first place, while Green Eggs and Ham ties with Nancy Drew for second place.  
  • And now we know Where the Wild Things Are, because that’s the top pick among those in west, followed by Charlotte’s Web.

Looking for another dividing factor? Search no further than education:

  • Among adults who have completed high school or less, Dr. Seuss takes the cake: Green Eggs and Ham comes in first, followed by The Cat in the Hat.
  • Meanwhile, college grads say reading Herman Melville’s Moby Dick was their childhood literary highlight, followed by Where the Wild Things Are.
  • Those with post graduate degrees found their first love in Nancy Drew, with a second place tie between Grimms’ Fairy Tales and The Bible/”Bible stories.”

At least the genders agree… sort of:

  • Men have clear cut first and second place preferences, with The Cat in the Hat in the lead and Green Eggs and Ham coming in second.
  • Women are a bit more torn, with the Cat, the Eggs, and teen sleuth Nancy Drew in a three-way tie for first place.

 

 

TABLE 1a

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD BOOK

“And what book from your childhood would you say is your favorite?”

Unprompted responses

Base: All adults

 

Rank

The Cat In The Hat

1

Green Eggs And Ham

2

Where The Wild Things Are

3

Nancy Drew

4

Bible/Bible stories

5

Charlotte’s Web

6

Goodnight Moon

=7

Curious George

=7

Little Women

=9

The Giving Tree

=9

 

TABLE 1b

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD BOOK AMONG DIFFERENT GROUPS

Base: All adults

 

First Place

Second Place

Gender 

 

Men

The Cat In the Hat

Green Eggs And Ham

Women

The Cat In the Hat, Green Eggs And Ham, and Nancy Drew (tie)

Age

18-24

Green Eggs And Ham

The Giving Tree

25-29

Where The Wild Things Are

Bible/Bible stories

30-39

Green Eggs And Ham

The Cat In The Hat

40-49

The Cat In The Hat

Green Eggs And Ham

50-64

The Cat In The Hat

Charlotte’s Web

65+

Nancy Drew

The Bobbsey Twins

Generation

Millennials (18-35)

The Cat In The Hat

Green Eggs And Ham

Generation X (36-50)

The Cat In The Hat

Green Eggs And Ham

Baby Boomers (51-69)

The Cat In The Hat

Nancy Drew

Matures (70+)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

The Bobbsey Twins

Education

High School or Less

Green Eggs And Ham

The Cat In The Hat

College Grad

Moby Dick

Where The Wild Things Are

Post Grad

Nancy Drew

Bible/Bible stories and Grimms’ Fairy Tales (tie)

Region

East

Green Eggs And Ham

Goodnight Moon

Midwest

Green Eggs And Ham

The Cat In The Hat

South

The Cat In The Hat

Green Eggs And Ham and Nancy Drew (tie)

West

Where The Wild Things Are

Charlotte’s Web

 

 

 


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between January 13 and 18, 2016 among 2,252 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

 

The Harris Poll® #19, March 11, 2016

By Hannah Pollack, Research Analyst, The Harris Poll