Putting on a hat before you left the house used to be a given, but now outfitting the top of your head has all but disappeared as a fashion necessity. Some say hats fell out of favor because President John F. Kennedy didn’t wear one. Others believe it’s just a normal cycle of the fashion world and hats, like bellbottoms will ebb and flow until the end of time. For the sake of hat lovers and Cary Grant fans everywhere, I’m crossing my fingers that it’s the latter.
Some people can really rock a hat.
And then there are hats that rock you.
The Sorting Hat, for instance:
I think most of us put our kids in hats because a kid in a hat is cute. Hats can also protect little noses from the sun or keep them up to code while playing with building blocks. Hats are integral to pretend play. They help kids imagine they’re someone else. A tiara lets them become a princess; a top hat makes them a magician. Even a colander can turn a kid into Buzz Aldrin… or Buzz Lightyear.
Here are a few books about the magic of hats that your little daydreamers will love.
In this wordless debut picture book from Tao Nyeu, two children plant a packet of mysterious seeds. From them grows a white bear in a blue top hat. With the hat, the Bear shows the children silly monkeys, transforms flowers into sea creatures and creates animal-shaped bubbles. The story is carried by beautiful silkscreened illustrations. Be ready to get creative with narrating the trippy illustrations – or let your kids tell you the story. This is a great opportunity for pre-readers to create their own version of what’s happening.
Surrealist painter Rene Magritte is depicted as a floppy eared dog (it’s not a comment on his art; everyone in the book is a dog) in this book that explores the simpler concepts of surrealism. A magical floating bowler hat that references many of Magritte’s paintings sends the canine version of Magritte on adventure after adventure while inspiring some of his most creative work. The best part of this book is the four transparent pages that alter the pages around them, providing an added layer of surrealism for kids.
Clara Button loves hats – making them and wearing them. She especially loves her Granny Elsie’s hat. When her brother Ollie breaks this favorite hat, their mother takes them out on a special hat day to cheer Clara up. While visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum, Clara gets lost on an exciting journey of discovery while her brother tousles with tigers and swords. De la Haye was a former curator of 20th Century Fashion at the museum and this book is a fun way for kids to get an inside look at the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design.
Mem Fox is no stranger to sorcery. Her book Guess What? Was put on the American list of the 100 most challenged books because it paints a positive picture of witchcraft. But for those of you not spooked by a little magic, share this one about a mysterious hat that unexpectedly appears in the sky and one by one turns the townspeople into animals. Rhyming language and colorful illustrations by Tusa only add to the whimsical story of this magic accessory.