Nov 11, 2009

Speak for the Trees: The Lorax, an Earth-Friendly Story

Books…books…books…I LOVE books! I’m addicted to books! I love sitting and snuggling with Ethan while we read a good book. Opening a book is opening the world to a child.

I started reading to Ethan when he was just a few days old. The rhyme and rhythm of Dr. Suess was a favorite. And now Ethan loves books too. I love when he asks, “Mommy can we read at least 6 books tonight?”. Hmmmmm….YES, of course, 6 books it is!!! He loves to read the same book over and over and over again. He learns new things from books, expands his knowledge on things he likes, laughs at silly stories, deepens his understanding of the world…and most of all has lots of fun exploring his universe through books. It brings tears to my eyes that he has a “only read with Mommy” book – “I Love You As Much” by Laura Krauss Melmed. I read this book to him when he was a baby…and now he “reads” it back to me.

A few weeks ago, I went to Ethan’s school on a Friday morning to sit in on Morning Meeting. Morning Meeting occurs each morning before classes begin, when students and faculty meet and together experience poetry, music, and stories. That day, Ethan’s teacher was reading a story to the children, The Lorax by Dr. Suess. This book was written 38 years ago and its message couldn’t be more relevant today! For those of you who haven’t ever read it and those who perhaps haven’t read it in awhile…the Lorax is a story about the tree loving Lorax and the greedy Once-ler.

The narrator is the Once-ler, who happens upon a lovely place populated by the beautiful, ethereal Truffula Trees. He is bewitched by their beauty and realizes that these natural resources can be profitable so he chops them all down to mass-market Thneeds -- “it’s a shirt, it’s a sock, it’s a glove…a Thneed is something that everyone needs”. Thneeds begin selling at an amazing pace and soon the Once-ler is making so much money. Sadly, in his quest for riches he pollutes the land, the water, and the air -- causing all the other creatures to depart, but leaving behind the yellow Lorax who “speaks for the trees” and warns the Once-ler of his folly. After the very last truffula tree is chopped down, the Once-ler is left alone with a pile of rocks spelling one word ...''Unless''.

When Ethan came home from school that day he wanted to read the Lorax again. And again. And again. We read the Lorax all weekend --- no exaggeration, at least 6 times a day --- and as many as 10.

Ethan was enthralled by the story of the Lorax and had many questions:
Who is the Lorax?
Who is the Once-ler?
What is grickle-grass?
Why did the Once-ler cut down the trees?
Can a whole forest grow from just one seed?
Why? Why? Why?

We acted out the Lorax story with Ethan assigning roles. We talked about the Lorax and what it meant. We both enjoyed playing the part of the Lorax and declaring “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees because they have no tongues.” We were so very sad when the last truffula tree was cut down. And we talked about "unless someone like you tries to make a difference."

Acting out the story was fun…yet also made the essence of the story understandable to Ethan. I would throw an imaginary truffula seed to him and he would put it in his pocket…with a smile on his face…and we would talk about how he, Ethan, can make a difference. The best part was when Ethan put the imaginary truffula seed in his pocket and declared he would take it to school on Monday….to talk to his teacher about saving the trees.

I love finding a story that resonates with Ethan and helps him to understand a complex subject. A good book engages a child and makes an important lesson so more understandable than when mommy just says, “it’s important to take care of our environment…”etc., etc. And actually, we can learn together with our children…. stories like the Lorax remind us to be kind to the earth.

Reading Dr. Suess with Ethan at 1 month old:

Uncle Joey reading Dr. Suess with Ethan at 2 months old:

Audrey and her friends reading Dr. Suess with Ethan at 3 months old:

Ethan "reading" the Lorax at 4 years old:

Needless to say, we added “The Lorax” to Also, check out “The Tree”, a beautifully illustrated story about the joy a tree feels giving life, shade, sustenance, and comfort...and how, when development threatens this tranquility, the fir wonders, “Who will house the owl? And who will hold the river’s shore?” and the importance of people together working to save our trees.

Remember...speak for the trees.



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