In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Competing messages

Dear Aunt Debbie,

Of course you're right -- parental involvement in reading is natural and vitally important in terms of the message a kid takes away from a book.  There are still books I don't want in the house, but when we bring home or are gifted with less than great books, there is opportunity for discussion about them.  And then sometimes I secretly throw them away.

But it's not always the parents', or the author's, intent that comes through.  Thinking about this subject, I was reminded of Eleanor's reaction to The Lorax, Dr. Seuss's classic of environmental awareness.  We read the book multiple times in a period of a couple of weeks: the Once-ler sent down his grovulous glove and told in low tones the story of how he deforested the land of Truffula trees to make and sell Thneeds, depriving all the local animals (Bar-ba-loots!  Swomee Swans!) of their natural habitats, and leaving the land miserable and polluted, despite the Lorax's warnings.  The story ends with the Once-ler tossing down the last Truffula seed for "you" (the boy standing in for the reader) to take care of, and a moment of hope that the trees can be brought back if you care and work hard enough.

What did Eleanor learn from all this?  For months afterwards, she would chant the Once-ler's words at every opportunity: "Business is business, and business must grow!"

There's a takeaway for you.

Love, Annie

1 comment:

  1. Reading this book to my preschoolers is one of my favorite teaching memories. Some (not all) were fascinated by the characters and kept asking questions, and when I challenged them ("But where are the Bar-ba-loots going to go now? BUT don't we need business and factories?"), they were stumped. It was one of our most exciting story-times.