Today, March 2, is Read Across America day, organized by the National Education Association, and celebrated on Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The idea behind it is “for every child to be reading in the company of a caring adult.” Interested students at Northeastern can join organizations like Jumpstart on campus that are devoted to early childhood literacy. At the Library, we have a number of Dr. Seuss books in the Favat Children’s Collection, as well as biographies of the Massachusetts-born writer, and even a government document—a 1943 army piece illustrated by Seuss about the perils of mosquitos!
Recently, my Environment and Society class watched The Lorax. I know what you’re thinking, why is a college class watching Dr. Seuss videos? For those who don’t remember the story from childhood the Lorax is a small fuzzy creature who lives in the truffula tree forest and speaks “for the trees.” He’s an environmentalist who stands up to the Onceler, an industrial tycoon who’s chopping down all the truffula trees to make thneeds, “which everyone needs.” The story goes on to show the results of unchecked, greed-driven production. The skies turn black. The rivers fill with waste. The animals run out of food and are forced to leave their home. Finally, the very last truffula tree is cut down. Then there’s nothing left but polluted, lifeless wasteland. It’s a very powerful story. So much so, in fact, that it’s been banned from schools in some logging communities. Dr. Seuss argued that the story wasn’t anti-logging, just anti-greed. Can you think of other “children’s” stories with similarly powerful messages?