Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Lorax

The Lorax
By Dr. Suess
5/5 *****
1st-5th Graders

The Lorax was another book that I found at home on my childhood bookshelf.  I hadn't read it in quite some time, and re-reading it now for this project was very interesting.  Normally when I think of Dr. Suess books, all I think about is fantasy, rhyme and bright colors.  To refresh your memory on this story if it has been a while for you too, it is the tale of mythical creatures manufacturing thneeds out of beautiful truffula trees.  As they continue to make more and more of these multi-purpose thneeds, the land of the truffula trees begins to fade- water become polluted, trees become sparse, animals flee, and the illustrations become dark and mostly gray.  At this point, the Lorax appears and begs the creatures to stop making the thneeds.  He says he speaks for the trees, and demands that they leave.  In the end, the land of the truffula trees is completely destroyed, except for the Oncler who lives in a shack and tells people the story.

After re-reading this book, I immediately notice all of the discussions about society and our planet that could be started after reading this book.  Especially with the older kids, talking about materialism (thneeds- everyone HAD to have them in the book, yet they were not very useful), pollution, respecting the environment and seeing firsthand in the book what can happen to our beautiful earth if we don't take care of it.  All of these topics are so relavent and modern, the teacher could ask kids to bring in articles about global warming, pollution or materialism in our society and relate examples or characters from the book to our world today.

Another great way to use this book, is to analyze Dr. Suess' writing techniques.  Of course, the rhyme scheme is always popular with almost any Dr. Suess book.  For the younger kids, clapping when they hear a rhyme as you read could be interesting, and with the older kids actually reading and picking out the rhyming words and trying to imitate this style could be more interesting for them.  Another interesting literary aspect to explore, is the perspective from which the story is told.  It is not just a narrative or a dialogue; there is a beginning story of the young boy paying the old Oncler to tell him the story of the Lorax.  This beginning story is quite detailed, and ties into the ending when the Oncler gives the young boy a truffula tree seed to go plant.  As a teacher, you could encourage students to try a new style of writing similar to this; create a beginning story that changes how the actual story they are writing is presented.  Even if the students don't necessarily like this exact idea, it will hopefully get them thinking outside the box.

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