Theodor Geisel and the Art of Dr. Seuss: Meet the Artist Behind the Cat, the Hat, and All the Books

Get to know another side of beloved children’s author and illustrator Theodor Geisel with these secret art of Dr. Seuss unit study resources.

Theodor Geisel and the Art of Dr. Seuss: Meet the Artist Behind the Cat, the Hat, and All the Books

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I’ll never forget the day I realized there was more to Dr. Seuss than The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, and the other children’s books loved all throughout the world.

My husband, kids, and I noticed a poster in the window of a local art gallery, walked inside, and encountered a new side to Theodor Geisel. We discovered the art of Dr. Seuss that day and gained a new appreciation for the beloved author and illustrator.

Theodor Geisel and the Art of Dr. Seuss

We’ve come a long way in getting to know the art of Theodor Geisel since our first visit to The Gallery of Fine Art. In fact, we now have an original lithograph of Sylvester McMonkey McBean’s Star-Belly Sneetch Machine hanging next to our Keurig. I received it for Christmas this year and completely adore it.

If you haven’t met this side of Dr. Seuss yet, here’s a quick overview for you:

In addition to the illustrations found in all his books, Theodor Geisel was a cartoonist and artist inspired by the surrealism movement. While some of his work as a cartoonist was popular because of advertisements and magazine submissions, he often kept the artist inside to himself.

The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss Unit Study Resources

That art, referred to as the secret art of Dr. Seuss, was created for his own enjoyment and not usually shared with others during his lifetime. The extensive collection is divided into the following categories:

  • Paintings
  • Taxidermy
  • Bronze sculptures
  • Illustration art
Love learning about illustrators? Check out these Quentin Blake unit study resources. 

You can view detailed descriptions and photos of all of these at The Art of Dr. Seuss. This is an especially good way to explore his artwork if you don’t have an exhibit or gallery nearby.

The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss Unit Study Resources

Want to dig in and learn more about the secret art of Dr. Seuss? The following resources would make a great addition to a Seuss-inspired unit study:

1. The Art of Dr. Seuss Collection

The Art of Dr. Seuss Collection is the best place to start for learning more about Theodor Seuss’ artistic endeavors. You’ll find details on all the Dr. Seuss special collections, biographical information, and photos from each medium.

This site also has exhibit and gallery locations so you can view his art in person or even purchase a piece for your home.

The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss Unit Study Resources

2. Seussville

The educator section of Seussville has a ton of free resources for celebrating Dr. Seuss, his art, and art in general. Along with lots of non-art ideas, the site features Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum along with matching lesson plans and these art-inspired activities.

3. Seuss Books

Speaking of Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum, although it’s a newer title, it’s probably the only one of his books that shows not only the impact art had on Geisel’s life, but also the way his art impacted others. In particular, the author’s note is not to be missed; it shares glimpses from a talk he gave about modern art back in the 1950s.

Even better, the author’s note spotlights several pieces from the secret art of Dr. Seuss, giving many children their first glimpse into some of my favorites like Archbishop Katz and Cat in Obsolete Shower Bath.

In addition to Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum, consider grabbing your favorite Seuss books and observing the illustrations. If you want to dig deeper, here are a few other books to check out:

  • Who Was Dr. Seuss? – This one is a nice biography for kids wanting to learn more about Dr. Seuss.
  • The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss – This one features details about Geisel as an artist and 65 color illustrations of his secret art. (Heads up: like many artists, he does have some paintings and drawings contain nudity. This book has a few of those.)
  • Imagine That!: How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the HatExactly what it sounds like, this fun book explains how one of Ted Geisel’s most famous books came to be. 
  • Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler This is another biography option to consider if you can’t find the Who Was book. 
The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss Unit Study Resources

4. The Art of Dr. Seuss videos

In addition to books that feature the art of Dr. Seuss, here are a few good videos from YouTube to consider. They’ll all help you and your kids get to know the artist side of Dr. Seuss:


Are you familiar with the art of Dr. Seuss? Do you have resources you’d add to our list here? If so, share them in the comments so we can check into them. 🙂

The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss Unit Study Resources

Looking for more fantastic Dr. Seuss fun? Don’t miss these:

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