Theodor Seuss Geisel Founds Beginner Books

By 1939, she realized acting was not her future, so she moved to New York, joined the advertising agency of McCann Erickson and began writing radio plays.

She shared a desk at the agency with an illustrator named Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Years later, after he became Dr. Seuss and, in 1957, published his breakthrough book, “The Cat in the Hat,” Mrs. Wagner suggested to him and his wife, Helen, that they collaborate on a series of learning-to-read books. Their new imprint, Beginner Books, eventually included classic titles like “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back” and “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Beginner Books is the Random House imprint for young children, co-founded by Phyllis Cerf with Ted Geisel, more often known as Dr. Seuss, and his wife Helen Palmer Geisel.

Their first book was Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat (1957). The rest of the series was modeled on the requirement Seuss set himself in writing that book: authors may only use words from a list of 379 words compiled by Cerf as the basic vocabulary for young readers, along with twenty more from a larger list of slightly harder words, and one "emergency word" of their choice.

With only four titles in their catalog in 1958, they were earning a million dollars a year two years later, making Random House the largest publisher of children's books in America.