The Lorax Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Keywords: 
Caring
Cause/Effect
Civil Society
Empathy
Environment
Environmental Stewardship
Recycling
Responsibility
by Dr. Seuss - A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to build children's understanding of empathy, community, and environmental stewardship. Spanish Version Attached.

This classic children’s tale, The Lorax, is a timeless call to protect and preserve our natural resources.  The Lorax explores the interconnected world of nature and the possible damage if we don’t act responsibly.  This book demonstrates the all-too-real consequences for careless consumption and greed.  The reader is challenged to develop empathy for the animals and plants who share our planet and stand up for the voiceless. 

Before Reading

ASK: Natural resources are things in nature that we use. Everyone on earth shares the same natural resources, including sky, trees, oxygen, water, and food. There is enough to go around if we all take care of them. What might happen if some people wasted or polluted water or put poison in soil? 

SHOW: Show the page that begins, “Way back in the days when the grass was still green”. Dr. Seuss imagined a beautiful environment filled with plants and animals.  Picture in your mind a place you have been that was beautiful; a park, a lake, your own neighborhood. Imagine what it might look like if the tree were cut down or the animals had all gone. 

CONNECT: In this story, a business didn’t pay attention to warnings about taking care of the environment.  As you listen, look for ways the natural resources and the business are connected and how they changed over time. 

During Reading

ASK: Who does the Lorax speak for?  If needed to a picture walk from the beginning of the book, pausing on the pages in which the Lorax says, “I speak for …”  Why might the Lorax have to speak for these plants and animals?

SHOW: Pause on the page that begins, “So I’m sending them off.”  The Thneed factory has grown large.  What do you notice about the environment?  What is different?  What are some of the problems that the Thneed factory caused in the local environment?

CONNECT: How are the environment and the Thneed factory connected?  If needed, prompt the listeners to consider the connection between the number of Thneeds made and the animals themselves.  How might real factories and the environment be connected?

After Reading

ASK: All citizens have the right to pursue happiness in their own way, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others. Think about the actions of the Once-ler. Did he make choices for the common good or just for the happiness of ONE? Did he infringe on the rights of others? What damage did he do? When did he realize his mistakes? Did he ever feel bad about what he was doing? How did he justify what he was doing?

SHOW: Show the page begins with “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,”  that What does “UNLESS” mean?

CONNECT: Why does the Oncler give the boy the precious last Truffula seed?  What is his hope for the future in this book and in our world? Each one of us has the power to help.  What are some ways we can personally care for the environment?

Activities

  1. Define natural resources.  Make a book about the conservation of natural resources. Make a cover out of recycled paper (cereal box, wrapping paper, wallpaper scraps, etc.) and staple in several half sheets of paper. Write about different natural resources and ideas for taking care of them, conserving our use, and enjoying their beauty. You may spend several pages on each resource (trees, water, air, oil, soil, etc.).
  2. Try this Simple Safe Service Earth Day Scavenger Hunt to inspire an appreciation of and a responsibility for our environment. 
  3. Earth Day is a wonderful time to read The Lorax.  Check out these wonderful Earth Day resources from Learning to Give.
  4. Project Learning Tree has uniqe activities and lessons that promote environmental conservation tied to The Lorax.
  5. Draw some Truffula Trees using bright markers or paint.
  6. Look at a tree outside and draw or paint it using lots of details.
  7. Make a leaf rubbing.
  8. Make a list of all the things that could be recycled. How does recycling in your home benefit the common good?
  9. Host a mock trial. Pretend the city is bringing the Once-ler and his Thneed business to court because the business has been dumping waste into the local river and polluting the air. Set up a mock trial with one side acting as prosecutors advocating for environmental protection and the other defending the Once-ler and his business.

Links & Attachments