March 2 celebrates the birthday of a modern-day Socrates, Dr. Seuss, Kids read Dr Seuss books for National Reading Month in March. But Dr. Seuss is not just for children. Grownups need his candy-colored, but not sugar-coated Tao, too. Here are National Reading Month lesson plans on 10 classic Seuss books for use in high school psychology, health and sociology classes.
National Reading Month lesson plans from Yertle the Turtle by Dr Seuss. This is an allegory of a social climber stepping on others to get to the top of the heap. Yertle was styled on Hitlerian politics of totalitarianism, dictatorship, tyranny and corruption of power. Yertle the Turtle has classic Napoleon complex and will stop at nothing to outdo others. His motto is “it’s not enough to succeed. Others must also fail.” Use Yertle the Turtle to teach politics, sociology, economics, collective bargaining, and the labor movement; Yertle the Turtle shows how everyone is hurt when one person works only for his own benefit or is unscrupulous about how he achieves success.
National Reading Month lesson plans on “Horton Hears a Who” by Dr Seuss. Horton has applications for health, sociology and psychology classes. It voices the concept of worth not being relative to size. Horton protects a small, civilized colony from destruction because ”a person’s a person no matter how small’. Horton faces persecution for supporting life. Horton is the quintessential hero of the pro-life and Civil Rights movements. Horton Hatches the Egg is a companion book and goes deeper into his role as savior and activist. Both stories have religious implications, showing Horton as a Higher Power. He’s a willing victim who sacrifices himself for others.
National Reading Month lesson plans on “The Lorax” by Dr Seuss. The Lorax allegory on ecology, symbiosis and environmental health. The Lorax echoes Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and is a perfect springboard for teaching habitats, pollution, biomes, biodiversity and interdependence. The Lorax also highlights the dangers of rampant economic development and urban sprawl. It shows why developers need regulations and why businesses should be rewarded for green’ development–installing scrubbers in factory chimneys and environmentally friendly waste treatment practices. The Lorax explores toxic waste disposal, greenhouse gases, emissions control, wildlife preservation, environmental choices. Use this in sociology classes to show how choices affect future generations.
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr Seuss develops the Scrooge theme. The Grinch is offended by what he sees as the materialism of Christmas. It’s easy to see the Grinch as the reformed bad guy. But Whoville may learn more important lessons about Christmas that the Grinch. The find that it’s more than packages, boxes or tags, too. And the Grinch’s plea for holiday simplicity resonates with mental health advocates. Use this in sociology lessons on community and psychology lessons on holiday depression.
“The Sneetches” teaches vital lessons on racism, bullying, segregation, discrimination and ethnic cleansing. This story is a blatant parable against anti-semitism with the use of yellow stars to classify. It has applications for sociology and psychology. “Put Me in the Zoo” is similar but shows how it feels to be different. This story is good for psychology lessons on personality development and nature vs. nurture. Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose makes great psychology lesson plans for exploring mental health, identity, interpersonal relationships, codependency, coping skills, self-advocacy and personal adjustment.
For more learning activities, visit Free Lesson Plans 4U and Kidz Literature.