Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Lorax

Author: Dr. Seuss

Grade Level: 1-6

Summary: The Lorax is one of the many classic stories written by Dr. Seuss. The story begins when a young child asks the Once-Ler to tell him the story of the Lorax. The Lorax is a tree-loving creature who lives very happily surrounded by Truffula trees and various creatures such as Brown Bar-ba-loots and Humming-Fish. One day the Once-Ler moves into town and cuts down a Truffula tree and makes a Thneed. A thneed is a fine-something-that-all-people need! The Lorax confronts the Once-ler and says that he speaks for the trees and asks him to please not chop them down. The Once-ler ignores the Lorax and continues to chop down the Truffula trees and make thneeds and build a thneed factory. As the Once-ler's business expands all the creatures that once lived happily are forced to leave and the Lorax continues to explain to the Once-ler the damage he is doing. The Once-ler ignores his warning again. Eventually, all the Truffula trees are chopped down and everyone leaves except the Lorax and the Once-ler. Finally, the Lorax decides to leave and when he does he leaves behind a pile of rocks with the word "UNLESS" written on it. The Once-ler never realized what it meant until he looked at the young child that he was telling the story to. The Once-ler leaves the fate of the land in the hands of that child, giving him the last Truffula seed and encouraging him to plant it so that one day the Lorax and all the other creatures will return.

Element Five: The Lorax is a great story for element 6, raising awareness, because it focuses on the important issue of sustainability and saving the environment. While the Lorax tried very hard to make a change himself, he was unable to succeed in doing so. The ending of the story calls on a child to take the matter into his own hands and make the world they live in a better place. This story allows a teacher to show students that they are capable of making changes and taking social action, even if it is by doing something as small as planting a tree.

Activity: The Lorax is a great book to read around Earth day and there are numerous activities that can be done with the book. One simple activity is to have students, as a class, compose a list of Earth-friendly actions that they can take part in. For example, turning the water off while brushing their teeth or switching to energy-efficient light bulbs. Another activity that can be done, with permission from the school, is that students can plant a tree on the school's campus and observe its growth as the year goes on.

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